Mayoral Candidate Sarah Iannarone: Portlanders need more space for fresh air and exercise

Sarah Iannarone at a rally for the 2030 Bike Plan in February.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If Sarah Iannarone gets elected to be Portland’s next mayor our streets will probably look and feel a lot different.

A strong transportation reform activist who gets around via e-bike and sits on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bicycle and budget advisory committees, Iannarone would very likely oversee PBOT if given the opportunity.

That might be why many of Portland’s grassroots transportation activists support her campaign. That might also be why her recently released Recovery and Resiliency Plan calls for things like more investments in bikeways, free transit, and an e-bike ownership incentive program. She’d also created “zero emissions thrive zones” and “pedestrian streets”.

I recently asked Iannarone to weigh in on the open streets debate. That is, what (if anything) should Portland do to take advantage of major changes in how people are getting around during the Covid-19 outbreak?

Here’s what she said:

“There has been a lot of discussion about open streets in Portland as people are self-enforcing the shelter-in-place order from Governor Kate Brown. I am concerned about the city’s lack of preparation on this front. Where is Portland’s emergency transportation plan so we’re not hammering this out in a crisis?


If I were mayor during this emergency, I’d be working to ensure Portlanders had safe access to fareless transit, ample right-of-way free for moving about outside their homes, including in the streets, with a focus on making sure the multifamily dwellers along East Portland arterials have safe space to get fresh air and exercise. I want us to make sure vulnerable Portlanders feel safe in our streets, which means assuring the public that traffic police would be focused on activities such as excessive speeding, not people gathering out of doors. I would tell the public to not call police about neighbors who they feel may not be properly socially distanced.

Ultimately, however, my focus now is people doing everything they can to keep themselves and their neighbors safe and to fight to preserve and maintain the gains in air quality, congestion relief, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and Vision Zero that we’ve realized as a silver lining in this otherwise abysmal situation.”

This response is in line with other comments she’s posted to Twitter, urging PBOT to take actions that will allow more Portlanders to use the streets on feet and bikes while maintaining a safe social distance.

“Now, we wait on City of Portland to open the streets to bikes and pedestrians so our kids can play in front of their homes spatially distance and free from harm,” she posted on March 23rd after Oregon Governor Brown announced that all playgrounds and ball courts would be closed. “Tick tock, tick tock.”

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