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Commissioner Eudaly asked about open streets during OPB radio interview

Posted by on April 22nd, 2020 at 2:54 pm

“I’m a little disappointed [advocates are] so singularly focused on this issue that they can’t really take into consideration the full breadth of what I’m dealing with as transportation commissioner.”
— Chloe Eudaly, City Commissioner

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)


During an interview on Monday, the host of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show, Dave Miller, asked Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to respond to a letter he read here on BikePortland.

The letter, written by Go By Bike repair shop and bike valet service owner Kiel Johnson, urged Eudaly to take steps toward changing streets to reflect new demands and behaviors amid the coronavirus quarantine.

Here’s the text of the exchange:

Dave Miller, OPB:

“A few days ago, Kiel Johnson, a local biking activist and business owner, wrote an open letter on the BikePortland website to you as commissioner of the transportation bureau. He called for you to use this time to make faster and bolder choices about transportation in the city. He wrote this: ‘Could we roll out a temporary version of the complete 2030 Bike Plan this summer? Can we transform PBOT to do the work of Better Block on a citywide scale?’ He went on… What is your response to that?

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Commissioner Eudaly:

“Our priorities in these first few weeks of the crisis have had to be on essential services and public safety and using our resources very wisely. As you may know, the City General Fund is going to take a major hit and the economic forecast for PBOT is even worse [The Oregonian has reported a $7 million per month revenue shortfall].

I don’t think that right now while we’re under “Stay at Home stay safe orders, that encouraging people to leave their homes and making radical changes with the way streets are used, are the best use of our time and resources. And I’m also very concerned about public safety.

What I will say is that I’m a big advocate of streets for people. I’m very interested in the conversation about reallocating the public right-of-way and sharing it with pedestrians and cyclists. I’m excited about this conversation and my bureau is planning a variety of initiatives run side-by-side with the phase-out of social distancing. 

I respect a lot of these advocates. I understand where they’re coming from. I’m a little disappointed that they’re so singularly focused on this issue that they can’t really take into consideration the full breadth of what I’m dealing with as transportation commissioner.”

This response echoes what Eudaly has said previously. It’s notable that she didn’t mention equity or density, two issues which she cited as key challenges last week during a meeting with the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee.

Last week, two Portland transportation advocacy groups — Bike Loud PDX and The Street Trust — called for near-term measures from PBOT that would give people more space to walk on sidewalks. And on Monday, Sam Adams, who’s challenging Eudaly for her council seat, said PBOT should immediately start a pilot program to discourage driving on residential streets.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

To be clear I think at the very least we need changes AFTER the stay at home order is lifted. We cannot go back to business as normal. As a socierty we cannot dedicate so much space to private cars and provide all the things we need for a more equal society (affordable housing, access to outside space…) And we need to get real about climate change. Joe Cortwright had a great write up today on how we need to manage our highways better after this.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

This whole transportation issue (like so many other issues) is kind of like health care. Americans overwhelmingly say they want health care, but when politicians try to provide it, they either don’t get elected, or are voted out and replaced by ones who want to take their health care away.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Or, in this case, politicians don’t try to provide it.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Can you provide a link to Joe Cortright’s article? Not finding the one you mention.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

It’s amazing that in Chloe’s bizzaro world viewpoint, we need dangerous streets in order to discourage people from going outside.

Chloe- news flash! Thousands of people are on the streets every single day because they still need exercise. The only thing you are discouraging is safe distancing practices by forcing everyone to use a 2 foot path rather than reclaiming space from private vehicles being stored for free on public property.

What an amazing leader. Vote for literally anyone else this spring.

tee
Guest
tee

She seems like she gets transportation and has good ideas one minute then just fails so completely spectacularly the next. Here’s to hoping that she doesn’t even last through the primary.

tee
Guest
tee

College education should be a requirement for commissioners. I didn’t vote for her in the last election, and I will continue my policy of only voting for candidates with at least a bachelors degree.

Linda Ginenthal
Guest
Linda Ginenthal

I don’t have a college degree. I started Sunday Parkways and accomplished quite a bit in my days in transportation and in my first career in politics. I did not have the money to go even with the generous scholarships I was offered. I also didn’t have the time to work full time and go to school full time (otherwise the scholarships would have disappeared). I’ve met some pretty spectacular dullards with university degrees and some brilliant folks without. A college degree is a great thing, but it is no measure of who can lead.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Agreed. One of the best ways to assess someone is to watch them on-the-job for 3 1/2 years, and see how well they do. The nice thing about politics (if you’re not a politician, at least) is you have to reapply for your job every 2/4/6 years, and have to be reaffirmed by the people who hired you.

Linda Ginenthal
Guest
Linda Ginenthal

Up here in Victoria B.C. our Minister of Health and our Medical Officer of BC Health are recommending that people stay home but also get outside, stay active and get some fresh air. They cite physical and mental health that must be maintained and sustained during this pandemic. These are the leaders in public health and experts in infectious disease with experience with SARS, MERS and H1N1. Like Oregon, BC is bending and flattening the curve. And even though our city is smaller, there are roads opening up to enable us to walk and bike outside and keep that important social distance. What are Portland’s remedies for the downtown and Northwest neighborhoods where there are just so many people who don’t have backyards and the parks are crowded and trails are narrow? What’s the plan for when more people go back to work and don’t want to get on transit? What does that conversation look like to facilitate this new demand for these new commuters on bikes, walking, and even in cars? Where is the vision for moving forward? PBOT is incredibly capable of running the business of transportation. Where is the political leadership?

9watts
Subscriber

“What’s the plan for when more people go back to work and..l

Thank you, Linda, for those great questions, I have had similar questions about PBOT’s vision for how climate change could upend our transportation apple cart, precipitate an end to automobility, for as long as I’ve been reading BikePortland. My impression (I hope I am wrong) is that there is very little of a plan, a vision. Any thinking that takes seriously the nonzero probability of such a shock to the system.
Which gets us back to leadership… where is it? If not with Chloe, then who do we look to?

Austin
Guest
Austin

Good grief.

miss_me_with_that
Guest
miss_me_with_that

My theory is she has a good transportation policy advisor. IMO she didn’t “get” transportation until around 2 years ago. Remember when she campaigned? It was all about housing and rent.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And she insinuates that those who advocate for open streets are doing so at the expense of other concerns, like virus exposure, housing, etc. It’s offensive.

This whole event is showing how singularly focused and closed-minded she really is.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Earlier this month, the state restarted CRC and Metro forked over $129M for the Rose Quarter freeway expansion in the last three weeks.

Please address further questions about funding and focus to the sentence above.

Champs
Guest
Champs

(if you end that sentence at “expansion.” Oops.)

dwk
Guest
dwk

“I’m a little disappointed that they’re so singularly focused on this issue that they can’t really take into consideration the full breadth of what I’m dealing with as transportation commissioner.”
Just resign.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This event is showing that she can’t handle multiple complex issues at the same time, and people think she can be Mayor?

SD
Guest
SD

Before the pandemic I was thinking about how powerful it would be to have a short film of Portlanders living and traveling in a low car-traffic, pedestrian and cycle- safe city, so that people who are usually confined to their cars could imagine a better world with fewer cars.
It would be great if some of this could be done with social distancing before the cars return, so that we have a reminder of the possibility of a low car world.

z
Guest
z

What a disappointment. This an incredibly rare opportunity and she’s squandered it.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

At this point she seems to be opposed to it largely out of spite, one of the real problems with Chloe is this you are either with her or you are her enemy approach. This has made deciding between her and Sam in the upcoming primary pretty easy.

dan
Guest
dan

Look into Keith Wilson…I’ll vote for him in a heartbeat over Sam Adams or Eudaly. He runs a trucking company under ethical management practices, is all in on Vision Zero, and wants to bring some actual transportation experience to working as head of PBOT. He’s a real breath of fresh air.

Full disclosure: I donated to his campaign, and got the e-mail below from his campaign about a month ago. In my eyes, he’s already shown more leadership and empathy than we’ve ever seen from Adams or Eudaly.

You haven’t heard from me or my campaign much this week. We have been crisis planning. My campaign team is quickly changing to the new normal. I now have a comprehensive plan in place for my company.

Our vulnerable team members for both my campaign and company are sheltering and not reporting. Whatever they need, I will provide.

I am committed to maintaining my entire staff and payroll for the duration of this crisis. My company is an essential business and will provide service to you and our community to the best of our ability, which I have done for 25 years.

I was on a conference call with Senator Merkley yesterday and explained our approach at TITAN Freight. “Too big to fail” has no room in this conversation as in past recessions. This is different. Every Portlander is affected and every Portlander needs support.

Many of you are without work, have had your life upended or soon will be. There is no one this won’t touch. I share your concern for loved ones and know that all of our actions are critical. I am limiting my activities and asking you, my loved ones and friends do the same. Shelter and limit activity (even my 17 and 14-year-olds are on-board now). If we work TOGETHER, at a safe distance, we can change outcomes.

I have reached out to non-profit organizations Transitions Projects and Human Solutions (homeless shelters), Community Warehouse (low-income community support) and Black United Fund (community support) to offer my company’s services free of charge. My team and I are committed to helping our community. We always have been.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I just heard Keith Wilson interviewed on OPB’s Think Out Loud a few minutes ago (4/23/20 at noon) and was impressed. Unlike Chloe, it seems he has actually run a successful business and has some real ideas. Unlike so many others, he has not been brought up exclusively in the political arena. I think he’s worth a closer look.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Please vote for anyone but Adams and Eudaly; We need a run-off, where we can dig in and get a bit of traction. I like Mapps (who has good presence in SE Portland, at least), but anyone will do. You’ll get your chance to vote for Adams in November.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

If you prefer Adams as a candidate I don’t see how voting for another candidate to produce a runoff is better than just voting for Sam in hopes that he will win outright. I really wish we would just go to instant runoff voting, runoff elections seem like a lot of expense and effort when we could skip it hand have a result more representative of what people want.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It would be better because during a runoff, you learn a lot more about the candidates (which might even let you change your mind, as crazy as that sounds in this polarized world), but it also gives you a larger window of opportunity to get promises from the candidates while they campaign that can be used as leverage later.

More information, more leverage… what’s not to like?

todd.boulanger
Guest
todd.boulanger

As I have shared before on LinkedIn…emergency periods are a great time to see how well our community leaders (and agencies) act during and in the near term afterwards. Some are rising to the occasion while others go into mental lockdown.

It is a bit unfair for Eudaly to shift the “blame” to transportation / safety advocates asking for “too much” now that we are entering week 6 of this emergency, especially when the existing conditions and our needs have changed so radically. Her comments would be fair if this were week 1 of COVID19. Cities and transportation departments have disaster plans to implement, yes?

This will be a 18 to 24 month period of major readjustment and I think we are all just asking for a revised roadmap since our “old conventional route” is closed by the COVID19 “detour” or “new way”. Perhaps the Mayor needs to do something?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And it’s not like Eudaly is new at the job; she’s been at the helm of PBOT for a while now, and it’s about time we see some of here supposed “I’m one of you” thinking in action.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Covid19 is a great test for real leaders.
This is a real crisis, not a fake one, and it requires people we elect to really perform.
She fails, not her fault, elected in good times when things are on autopilot.
Trump is completely failing for the same reasons.
Game show hosts and small time thinkers are completely irrelevant when the world crashes.
We are depending now on real people who know things.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Eudaly: “I’m a little disappointed that they’re so singularly focused on this issue that they can’t really take into consideration the full breadth of what I’m dealing with as transportation commissioner.”

Fred back to Eudaly: “I’m more than a little disappointed that you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but I’m most disappointed of all that Portland’s commission-style gov’t has given an unqualified person like you operational control over the city’s transportation infrastructure. If Portland had a modern municipal gov’t, like, say, Oakland or Copenhagen or Milan, the transportation pros could handle challenges on multiple fronts. But you are an amateur and you are clearly unqualified for the work you are faced with – even though your heart is in the right place on a few issues, like the rose bus lanes (which you still haven’t shown you can deliver on).”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Her job is political direction; the pros are still figuring out how to make it (not) happen.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Hey Sam, I know you are reading bike Portland. Chloe left you a big opening, step into it and take that seat. Let he rerun again. She is really burning down the house here.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

He stepped in to call for prioritizing walking and biking on some streets during the pandemic awhile ago, bikeportland even reported on it a few days ago. He calls for piloting the concept and expanding it if it seems to be working, abandon it if it doesn’t.

https://bikeportland.org/2020/04/20/former-mayor-now-council-candidate-sam-adams-thinks-time-is-now-to-create-more-safe-street-space-313779

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

My take was that, rather than dismissing the intent of the question, she was pleading that she has limited capability to multi-task and tackle multiple large issues at once. A sign of someone in over her head.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I’m a little disappointed that she has allowed her bureau to structure its budget such that should they succeed in our Vision Zero / Climate Action goal of taking cars off of the road that the budget would fail. Every project in PBOT’s pipeline would be unnecessary in a world without cars. But that’s a lot of jobs and they want continuity. In places where they’re spending millions of dollars on red lights, there is often a parallel route such as an access-controlled express carway available nearby. People with cars will use whatever roads available to them right up until they are asked to pay full price for the privilege. Good luck balancing those books.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Maybe Eudaly can come here and fight with people like Iannarone did.

SD
Guest
SD

Her response sounds a lot like “I’m in over my head, and I’m too busy to deal with new ideas.”

This is probably the result of an atrophied/ repressed active transportation contingent at PBOT that can’t respond to changing circumstances.

Ted
Guest
Ted

“I don’t think that right now while we’re under Stay at Home stay safe orders, that encouraging people to leave their homes and making radical changes with the way streets are used, are the best use of our time and resources.”

Like it or not, these things are happening. People are leaving their homes in greater numbers on foot and bike for mental and physical health. This, combined with the decline in auto traffic, is a radical change in the way our streets are being used.

Balancing the need to adjust our streets to better accommodate public health and their current use with other limitations is a separate question, which I don’t think has been addressed.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Perhaps being exclusively anti-car has destroyed your credibility?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Not exclusively obviously. I mean, you have also advocated for density and public transit. Both of which you now cite as the problems that need to be addressed.

Good work.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Seek help.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

“I’m a little disappointed that they’re so singularly focused on this issue that they can’t really take into consideration the full breadth of what I’m dealing with as transportation commissioner.”

Wow, that sounds even more cringily condescending and self-important than the first time I read it.

Jack
Guest
Jack

Yeah, I think most employees at PBOT are more concerned about layoffs right now and you now just keeping things afloat during this difficult time. But fuck them, right? More pet projects for rich white males in NW Portland!

chm89
Guest
chm89

Weirdly, PBOT, a government agency as the same amount of money whether they sit idle or they do improvement projects! Weird right! It’s almost like the project safety advocates are asking for have no bearing on layoffs happening or not happening.

If anything, finding work that needs to be done will prevent layoffs.

It’s seems like you might just be full of it!

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Go forth, my minions, and sew identity conflict on every forum in the land! Pit one against the other so they are weak, and in their weakness we shall find strength!

Roberta Robles
Guest
Roberta Robles

What they are dealing with right now at PBOT is the Rose Quarter Freeway Widening project bid proposal is out for requests from prime contractors. Chloe’s ex policy advisor Winta Yohanna for the Neighborhood Association debacle has now been hired with the Albina Trust and they are going all out to get the Rose Quarter $400+++ million dollars for a project nobody wants with a Trust that isn’t even located in nor do their two owners actually live or work in Albina. So there’s that. Follow the money, who’s about to get the largest contract in Oregon on a project nobody wants? I know it’s so hard dealing with a crisis of morality but we certainly expected a plunky bookstore owner to last longer then the first large contract.

hotrodder
Guest
hotrodder

“we certainly expected a plunky bookstore owner to last longer then the first large contract”

Did we?

Did we really?

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

I hope she has some cushy consulting job lined up based on her connections within the city…. Because her days are numbered I as an elected official.