“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
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?
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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