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Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is ready to focus on cycling

Posted by on February 12th, 2020 at 11:10 am

“As our population booms and we have smaller and smaller right-of-way to share, biking really needs to have a lot more direct focus from the Commissioner.”
— Jamey Duhamel, policy director for Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

Duhamel at Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last night.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A big thing happened at last night’s Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting: A current City Commissioner (via a staff person) expressed a direct interest in bicycling and said they want to make it a bigger part of their portfolio.

Why is this big news? Because bicycling as a political issue has receded into the shadows here in recent years. Thanks to a mix of controversies (some fake, some real), political dynamics, the dominance of more important issues at City Hall, and a slew of other factors — no local politician has been able and/or willing to step up and profess true love for cycling.

That all changed last night when Commissioner Eudaly Policy Director Jamey Duhamel addressed the committee. Here’s what she said:

I want to let you know I will be attending these meetings more regularly and taking a more hands-on approach with the bike mode in Portland, and really getting into what it is that our projects and plans are failing to do and help make future plans better.

I think it’s pretty clear to the people in this room that when the Commissioner was assigned PBOT about a year ago we immediately laser-focused on increased transit. It was the issue that was most complementary and intersectional with our social, environmental and economic justice issues; and so we really went big and bold for increasing transit service [Duhamel is the architect of the Rose Lane Project, Eudaly’s effort for dedicated bus lanes citywide].

But along the way over the last year we’ve learned a lot about how the different modes in Portland intersect with each other and what really was going to need more of our attention than others. Bicycling is one of those modes where, when we first came into it, we believed it was living and breathing on its own within PBOT: There’s a lot of really good plans in place; there’s a lot of really good advocates working on this issue. But what we’ve recognized over time is that as our population booms and we have smaller and smaller right-of-way to share, that biking really needs to have a lot more direct focus from the Commissioner. Not only so we can support the staff and identify resources and make bold moves; but so we can put political will behind the plans and what advocates want to see.

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My job here is to listen and learn. I will serve as a liaison between this group, PBOT staff, and the Commissioner so we understand when projects are coming forward, what the complications are, and how we can assist in untying those knots for you. Please consider me to be in direct service to you. I’m here to make the bicycling mode better in Portland.

Upon hearing this, my first thought was: Wow. I can’t believe I’m actually hearing this! It finally happened.

My second thought was: Why now? Excuse me for being so cynical in BikePortland Year 15 that I think everything is political.

“It’s time for some bike love from the commissioner who has demonstrated she has political will in abundance.”
— Duhamel on Twitter last night

But seriously. Was this a gambit from Eudaly to wrest the “bike champion” label from former Mayor Sam Adams — her main challenger in her re-election bid and one of the most bike-friendly politicians in Portland history? Was this an attempt to curry favor for the Rose Lane Project from BAC members and the “bike community” more broadly since there’s grumbling about how bike riders will/won’t share transit-only lanes, and how “transit only” lanes might hurt bikeway quality in some projects? Or, was Eudaly simply inspired by 10th anniversary of the 2030 Bike Plan and the rally outside her office a few hours earlier?

After Duhamel responded to a tweet with these questions last night, I gave her the chance to clarify her answer to the “Why now?” question.

Duhamel said beyond the fact that Eudaly’s Fair Access in Renting (FAIR) ordinance and Rose Lane Project plans are off-and-running, their office is ready to show some “bike love” in part because they’ve added staff that allows her to focus on transportation policy. She also mentioned a recent BikePortland article. “Recently, you published an article that gave feedback on a project that pitted bicycles with parking and buses. We recognized that these are the types of decisions that don’t always make their way to our office, and we decided to take a more direct role so that we can jump in quickly to provide resources and political support.”

Related to the bus/bike interaction issue, Duhamel also announced last night that she wants a cycling representative on the Rose Lane Project Internal Advisory Group that will start meeting again in March.

It’s been a long time; but if these words are followed up by action, we will finally have a true champion for bicycling in City Hall once again.

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

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JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Obvious pandering.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I hope it’s not just pandering and I hope that the words will be followed by concrete action. However, even if it is, that indicates something. The fact that politicians feel the need to pander to cyclists (if this is in fact politically motivated) indicates their belief that cyclists are an important constituent. That’s not even close to being enough on its own without any actual steps taken, but I’d like to think that once support for cycling becomes normalized and is no longer a political third rail, that would mean more tangible steps being taken. I’m hoping this will be, in Gandalf’s words, “the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche”.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I would be surprised if Eudaly is re-elected. Having her be a primary advocate for cycling will not help us very much. Of course, the bigger takeaway is that it’s not very effective for long-term infrastructure initiatives to be spearheaded by elected officials. If we need a bike-friendly commissioner in charge of PBOT for anything to get done, at best we’ll only progress in fits and starts.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

We need to vote to change the commissioner form of gov’t; it’s racist, regressive and highly inefficient.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

What outcomes would make it equitable for you?

KYouell
Guest

I disagree, but the explanation why is long enough that I put my comment in the main thread. I think “obvious” is obviously not the case.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

As someone who was in the room last night I really don’t think it is pandering; but if I’m wrong and it is, I’m more than happy to be pandered to.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

Thank you commissioner for giving bicycling more attention! It is an important part of providing cheap access to our transportation system and making our system more sustainable.

How about a “Green Lane” project for bicycling? Biketown has been doing a lot of great things to make bicycling more accessible. Let’s electrify and make it citywide. PBOT is soooo slow at rolling out projects that anything that can be done to speed that up would go a long way to improving bicycling. The wins that come with a growing bike mode share are so important to Portland. Let’s turn the decline around!

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

I think she’s scared of Sam, I hope she’s being genuine.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

Sam was at the Bikeloud rally outside city hall Tuesday

9watts
Subscriber

“we have smaller and smaller right-of-way to share”

That is not really an accurate statement. Perhaps she meant that with population growth the demands on the right of way (which certainly is not shrinking) are increasing?

Isn’t the issue that the right of way we have should be more fairly reassigned, not just based on current mode share but more importantly on the mode share we know we’re going to end up with as the automobility/fossil fuel/CarHead era sunsets?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I think what you “know” about the future is different than what other people “know”. And everyone’s probably way off.

So who’s wrong predictions do we build for?

9watts
Subscriber

Pascal’s Wager is one of many possible ways that could help us answer that question: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

So plan for automated cars, with designs that can “gracefully degrade” to biking, walking, and horse riding if your future comes to pass?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Whether you believe this is is “genuine” or “calculated”, I, for one, welcome this change of heart. I think there is no possibility Eudaly will get re-elected, so I think her best course is to make as much progress on as many issues as she can in the time she has left, without regard for popular opinion. Getting some initiatives rolling with enough momentum that they will outlast her is one way to ensure she’s remembered for something positive.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Nesting fail. This was intended to be a general comment, unrelated to 9watt’s post.

soren
Guest
soren

“we have smaller and smaller right-of-way to share”

I believe Jamey is saying that traffic lanes are becoming more congested. Congestion and the resulting increase in conflict is likely one of the main causes of the sharp drop in people cycling for transportation.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Seems pretty clear that Eudaly assumed she would have an easy path to reelection for some reason and the combination of having it really be pointed out how far behind her bureau is on their commitments to bike infrastructure combined with Sam entering the race is at least enough to get her to pay lip service to bikes but I will believe it when I see things change long term.

PS
Guest
PS

When one occupies an echo chamber of support from a vocal minority and has the disposition that dismisses any critique of planned or enacted policies, well, the individual may end up with a pretty inflated sense of political standing.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

exactly which politician are you referring to (because your comment could apply to any of them…)?

I’m not a huge fan of Eudaly, but the same goes for Sam Adams.

D'Andre Muhammed
Guest
D'Andre Muhammed

It was leaked how much contempt she has for anyone not lock step in line with her. Her behavior does not warrant a second term. I’m going with Sam.

KYouell
Guest

As someone who knows Chloe from the special needs mama/renter/writer section of the Venn diagram of interactions, here’s what I think happened.

For years Chloe has been very aware that I carry my son by bike. She arranged the only public reading I did of my piece in Taking the Lane: Childhood about riding him around on our bakfiets. She made sure to come up to me afterwards to verify I was connected with NWDSA (a local Down syndrome parenting group) and we had a great chat.

Since then we have occasional chats online about what biking can and can’t mean to our loved ones with disabilities. These conversations brought me to a new understanding and made my proselytizing for cargo biking with kids with special needs more nuanced. I grew from our talks, and I hope she grew in how she perceives the endless “you CAN get out of your car” from biking advocates as more nuanced in reality (even if we are occasionally harsh-sounding online for brevity’s sake).

Recently there was a rumor that Chloe had moved to SW and she posted about that on Facebook. It wasn’t a public post so I’m not going to tell-all, but I feel comfortable saying that biking is now something she looks at as a viable mode in her daily life.

I think she’s seeing things from our side and she now has the time/energy to focus on other issues, so she naturally came to the biking issue.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Um, I mean “supporting cycling as an effective transportation mode” is a big tent and everyone’s welcome, but based on your comment, it sounds like she wasn’t that interested until it would benefit her personally. What happens when she moves again?

KYouell
Guest

Do you understand the limitations that a loved one with special needs can put on a person’s life? We parents give up a lot and change a lot because we find ourselves in a world with people whose abilities are different. My family thinks I’m INSANE for being car-free (as do some Bike Portland commenters who think it’s a lie), but they rarely had to deal with a non-verbal kid who clearly had anxiety when placed in a car. If her personal life has changed so that she can actually do something that I believe she’s wished she could do for a long time, that’s great! And if her personal life changes so that she can’t bike commute I don’t think she’ll turn her back on biking in Portland any more than she’s going to change to being an advocate for renters or a person that likes the printed word.

I voted for Chloe because she is me. Let her come to new thoughts and expand on her ideals as she can. How would our movement grow if we accused everyone who tried to join us of not being gung-ho, do or die?

joan
Subscriber

This is excellent news, and I welcome Commissioner Eudaly’s advocacy! I’m even more excited for her re-election now.

TruthinJohn
Guest
TruthinJohn

oh, hooey. Chloe sees bike proponents as votes she now desperately needs, and has strategized to pander to them. That’s why this “announcement” was suddenly timed right during her election campaign 12 weeks before people vote for her City Council seat . Neither Jamey nor Chloe have any personal commitment to bike riding. Chloe shows up to the occasional Sunday Parkways to wave and politician showcase, but she never rides her bike to work or for shopping or other daily essentials. Jamey is also a hypocrite, I don’t think she’s ever ridden a bike in Portland. And the only reason Jamey is working on this is she’s not allowed to be associated with the Neighborhood Association Code Change issue anymore since she royally screwed herself by showing her disdain of our city’s residents in her lengthy text message rants Willamette Week exposed last year. That Eudaly didn’t fire her over that is disturbing.

mran1984
Guest

She does not ride a bike. PBOT has not made one good decision with her in “charge”. Yeah, let’s move the speed bumps on Lincoln. Oh, but now they are right next to the turnarounds and the bumps that were removed are neat scars on the road. Why not leave the bumps? Plus, I have NEVER witnessed such a waste of payroll than I did watching this “work”. The ugliest intersection in Portland is 30th & Lincoln. What a poor solution. I bet the Sunday was overtime as well. Does anyone really want to ride public transportation with JEREMY CHRISTIAN? Tri-Met has no plans to ensure your safety, but the driver is protected. I repeat, she does not ride. I am looking forward to Sam Adams. Portland was far better then.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

You do understand the she doesn’t make the design changes and isn’t the reason the speed humps were moved? And what’s wrong with the 30th and Lincoln intersection? Do you not like the plastic wands? I’m not sure what else could have been done maybe large garden planters. I saw a pickup drive on the wrong side of the road there to go around the diverter a couple weeks ago so I think something substantial needs to be there. Why does she have to ride a bike to deliver on a promise to support cycling infrastructure projects?

maxD
Guest
maxD

30th/Harrison. I have ridden through here on Harrison many times and I appreciate the changes as a bike rider. However, I just google street-viewed the intersection from 30th heading south, and really is terrible. Here a few things they should have done:
1. painted left and right arrows before the stop bar to reinforce that turning is required
2. Sawcut and removed the asphalt and planted it. On the west side of 30th (both sides of Harrison), there is a lot of square footage of asphalt that is fenced off with wands and paint that is very cluttered looking and confusing. If that asphalt was gone and replaced with drought tolerant, low-growing, evergreen plants, the navigation would be much more intuitive and the street would be much better looking. I think you could cut/remove asphalt and most of the gravel, pour a small flush curb to hold the asphalt, and loosen the soil for not much more $$ than all of those wand and paint or thermoplastic.

dan
Guest
dan

A little off-topic, but I agree the SE 30th and Lincoln intersection is ridiculously confusing. Users of any mode who see it for the first time will struggle to understand what they’re supposed to do.

Also, did we really need speed bumps on Harrison from 20th to 30th? Not even a little 6-inch gap for bikes to go through? I don’t mind them going downhill, but they really harsh my mellow when I’m riding up the hill.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

dan
Also, did we really need speed bumps on Harrison from 20th to 30th? Not even a little 6-inch gap for bikes to go through? I don’t mind them going downhill, but they really harsh my mellow when I’m riding up the hill.Recommended 0

No we don’t need them. The people that live there want them because other people who live nearby can’t manage to go downhill without exceeding the speed limit.

I don’t really understand what’s confusing about the wands at 30th there’s signs that direct you too. Then again I’ve seen people try to drive through the diverter at 28th and realize they won’t fit half way through the process. I think that’s more an inattentive driver problem then it is a design problem.

Dan
Guest
Dan

OK, time for honesty: for quite a while, the uphill chunk from SE 20th to SE 30th has been one of the small number of Strava segments where I actually try to set PRs. I trimmed five seconds off my prior best this summer, and now, with the speed bumps, I know I’ll never be able to match / beat that time again. I know, I know, there’s lots of places to ride, but I commuted up that hill for just shy of 15 years, and that climb has a special place in my heart.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

This is a very negative, un-constructive and off-topic comment.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Par for the course with this one.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

I have a mixed reaction; I think the intersection at 30th and Lincoln/Harrison needed narrowing, it’s only wide because of required historic street car track turn radii; but, whether wands or hardscape would have been better is a toss-up, I’m not particularly a fan of either.

My number one beef with the overall project is the four (six) speed bumps they installed on SE Harrison between SE 26th and 20th (Ladds circle). These were unnecessary and uncalled for after the diversions were in place, and are not pleasant to bicycle over at all; in fact, they are actually a hazard to cyclists going downhill westbound on SE Harrison.

CR
Guest
CR

I’m surprised by the mixed goodwill in these comments. I took the active transportation class (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/359369?archive=2011-08) with Commissioner Eudaly over a year ago and she seemed genuinely committed and very motivated to making Portland move navigable from a non-car-ed perspective. I welcome hers and Jamey Duhamel’s continued advocacy. And I see it as complementary to her Rose Lane Project (which is needed and actually happening!). I am excited for her re-election.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

I will be happy to see Sam Adams take Eudaly’s seat.

mh
Subscriber

I wish he was running for a vacant seat.

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

Jonathan wrote
“It’s been a long time; but if these words are followed up by action, we will finally have a true champion for bicycling in City Hall once again.”

Let’s rephrase this —
“In the past, there was a strong grassroots bicycle activist sentiment in Portland, and it helped launch a period of pro-bicycling policy at city hall. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this now, but if the bicycling constituency rises again and gives loud and strong support for bicycle projects and funding, we now have another candidate who is willing to turn these voices into action.”

Folks, for the last 10 years, members of the bicycling constituency have spent too much time crying in their beer over bicycling just being a program of average priority at PBOT, and not enough time learning how Advocacy 101 is what actually got us to those heady days of the 00s.

We can make it happen again. Want to make it happen? Have you and your friends contact Commissioner Eudaly and tell her “I was excited to read Jamey Duhamel’s comments at the BAC last night posted on Bike Portland! You have my support! Let’s make this happen!”

Throw in a personal anecdote or two if you feel so inclined.

And hit “send” to chloe@portlandoregon.gov

Best,
Ted Buehler

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Sam Adams is about Sam Adams.

Bicycles are in his rear-view mirror.

dan
Guest
dan

Jim Lee
Sam Adams is about Sam Adams.Bicycles are in his rear-view mirror.Recommended 1

My understanding was that the police are in his rear view mirror.

[rim shot]

Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.

MARY E SIPE
Guest
MARY E SIPE

Be very cautious of the intent from Commissioner Eudaly. For 4 years I led an initiative to amend the City’s Noise Code to restrict unnecessary use of the impact hammer pile driver. While she was campaigning for Commissioner, Chloe Eudaly publicly supported our initiative and supported a recommendation from the Noise Review Board to amend the code. After she came into office she blocked the proposal from being submitted to City Council for a vote…you are right to be suspect of her intentions. Hundred of neighbors regret voting for her.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Eudaly’s dismantling of Portland’s noise control seems quite at odds with her support for increasing density. As more of us live closer together, addressing noise issues become increasingly important.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

D’Andre Muhammed
It was leaked how much contempt she has for anyone not lock step in line with her. Her behavior does not warrant a second term. I’m going with Sam.Recommended 1

If she were a man people would perceive her as a good leader or they would perceive her as somebody who was leading the way and telling it like it is. But since she’s a woman all of a sudden she’s perceived as everything that you mentioned. We have long since I’ve had a long trio of white man running the City. Since you’re sending me the woman on the council seem to be judged far more harshly.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You are mistaken — her behavior would not be acceptable in a man.

Helen
Guest
Helen

As Mr. Maus noted, Has Sam Adams’ entrance in Eudaly’s race for re-election motivated her to start seeing bicyclists? That is the first thought that came to my mind. haha
I’m voting for Sam because Portland isn’t the cycling city it used to be and I am fed up with: all the newcomers who’ve brought their cars and unsafe driving with them; Uber; Lyft; and Amazon delivery vehicles.
It’s a shame what has happened to Portland.