It’s been a tough pill for me to swallow, but the truth is cycling just doesn’t command the same attention in local political circles that it used to. With so many people struggling to put a roof over their head and all the systemic injustice and inequality that has become even more glaring in recent years, it’s understandable that personal mobility doesn’t merit as much attention as it did a decade ago.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t ask candidates for local office what they think about it!
Bicycling is the most efficient, flexible, and resilient form of urban transportation ever invented and It’s time for to stop being a dirty word in Portland. We have a lot of work to do and we can start that by making sure politicians and would-be politicians are asked about this vital issue on the campaign trail.
This is the first post of several I’ll share in the coming days that give you a window into how candidates talk and feel about cycling. Today’s post features candidates for Portland City Council position #4. I asked the five leading candidates — Mingus Mapps, Chloe Eudaly (incumbent), Seth Woolley, Keith Wilson and Sam Adams — the same five questions via email. Here are their responses (with some editing for brevity and clarity):
What is your relationship to cycling?
I am what the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 describes as an “enthused and confident’ bicyclist. I am a lifelong cyclist and bike commuter. I am comfortable on busy streets with bike lanes. One day, I hope to own an electric and commute on an electric bike.
I can still remember the moment that I mastered the balancing act of riding a bike–what a thrilling feeling! I would have been five or six, and I learned to bike on a gravel driveway in rural Oregon. I now shudder to think about some of the dangerous roads I rode on as a kid and teenager, but there weren’t any other options. When I moved to Portland at 18, I got a mountain bike, and for the next 10+ years, I primarily got around on foot, by bike, or transit. Having a short commute has always been a priority for me, and for a long time, I was able to achieve that.
My life has changed a lot in the last 20 years, from becoming a parent to a kid with a significant motor disability to being a displaced and cost-burdened renter. Biking was no longer a viable option for getting to most of the places I needed to go, and I primarily biked for recreation. Last year I was able to move back to the central city–within two miles of City Hall. I did it because I realized the most significant improvement I could make in my life was to reduce my commute and because I could leave my car behind and bike, walk, or bus to work. I recognize the privilege I have in getting to make that decision, and I want that choice to be available to all Portlanders. In the intervening years, I’ve gotten to ride bikes in other cities and countries, including Amsterdam (where I got a tour by bike aficionado and In The City of Bikes author, Pete Jordan) and Stockholm, those experiences drive my commitment to expanding and improving Portland’s bicycle infrastructure.
I bought my current bike, a Linus Dutchie, from my longtime friend, Kim Fern, who was one of the owners of North Portland Bikeworks. My shop, Reading Frenzy, was a pitstop for a lot of Portland’s radical bike community. We carried a wide variety of bike-related titles, were a launching pad for what would become the bike-centric Microcosm Publishing, hosted numerous bike focussed events, and we were located three-doors down from the unofficial headquarters of Zoobomb. The Sprockettes even performed at one of our events!
I grew up in a rural half-acre lot in unincorporated Snohomish County, in Washington State northeast of Seattle where the only safe mode to travel was by car along curvy narrow roads. I have two older siblings and a twin brother.
The only alternative transit available was the school bus. We had early activities that required trips to school earlier than the bus, so we had to drive nine miles to the high school every day. My older sister and brother would drive us early to them, until they left for college, and then when I was 16, I had to get a license to drive us to school too. Then I went to college in Salem at Willamette University. While there I didn’t have a car, just a bicycle, so I let my license expire. I had the freedom of the bicycle and rode everywhere around town.
For part of that time without a license I lived in the SF Bay Area and used combinations of rail passes (Amtrak), transit passes (Muni), and bicycle to meet the trains. I had a Dahon folding bike while I was there to enable these commutes. I didn’t start with any money, and we both had college debt to pay off, so we were living as frugally as we could, and transportation cost reductions were a big component of our saving and repayment plans. When I had an opportunity to work in Portland at a remote office, I moved back to Oregon and have been here ever since, getting remote work jobs in software engineering to stay in Portland.
Since I was such a big bike commuter, when I stopped having an office to go to, I kept riding on weekends, doing longer and longer trips. I was involved in the Green Party and we needed a 1% statewide candidate to run, so I ran for Secretary of State and campaigned statewide using my bicycle, touring for a month long vacation and visiting almost every county in Oregon. I went 1500 miles in four weeks visiting local chapters and talking to local reporters. I wanted to walk the talk and demonstrate better campaign practices. Local reporters did report on the trip, where normally they would have ignored a Green candidate for office, especially in a rural town. Since then I’ve done other long tours. I tend to not do organized rides because they appear to be fairly carbon intensive. I’ve done Seattle-to-Portland at the request of a friend who wanted to do it, and again the Ski-to-Sea relay race for the road bike portion, but I tend to just get on the bike and ride out to Sandy or Vernonia and do a loop. When the mountains are clear, I do rides to the mountains with camping gear, and I’ve done portions of the Oregon Outback Trail and the Great Divide Trail.
I ride two to three times per week from March to November. I stick to the Neighborhood Greenways and ride a loop from Going > Vancouver Ave > Waterfront Park > Tilikum Crossing > Springwater Trail > I-205 bike path or hit the Columbia River path. I ride to and from work on weekends, northeast Portland to deep southeast. I have a Lemond bike that I just gave to my son as his first road bike, and he loves it, and I moved up to a Trek Emonda.
This is a photo of me at 13 that my Dad took of me at the top of the Lolo Pass in the Rocky Mountains [Note: Photo now shown.] We had biked from our home in Newport, Oregon. We biked up and down Hwy 101 and the Cascades. My Dad was not happy about having a gay son, but we had bond around our joint love of biking touring. My Dad died last week, and I am grateful for imparting to me the love of biking.
Have you ever ridden a bike on a high-traffic, high-speed arterial street? What was it like?
I have been a daily bike commuter in Portland since the 1980s. At some point, I have ridden on most of Portland’s bikeable, high-traffic, high-speed arterial streets. Riding on high-traffic, high-speed arterial streets is scary and dangerous. That is why, when I am on City Council, I will focus on improving and completing Portland’s biking infrastructure so that every neighborhood in the city is safely accessible by bike.
Yes. I had to ride Highway 99W to get to my friend’s houses as a tween and teen. It was not a pleasant experience or one I would want to repeat. Living in Portland, I take advantage of calmer roadways. I’m a very defensive bike rider and prefer to avoid car traffic as much as possible.
Yes, I have ridden on many of those kinds of streets, as part of commutes, as part of touring, and I’ve ridden on I-5 and I-84 on sections where allowed. I’ve done US-101 all the way to San Francisco, multiple times (nice train ride back) and parts of CA-1. In Oakland, CA I would ride Park Boulevard every day up the hill from the Jack London Amtrak station, and that was a fright. In Portland it’s good enough that I don’t consider these streets so bad. Terwilliger and Broadway have bike lanes and Portland drivers aren’t anywhere near as bad as those in other states.
I’ve been honked at, been cursed at, been coal-rolled, had empty cans flung at me, been run off the road (I use a rear view mirror, always), but only recently have I invested in an action camera to log these events. I’ve been nearly left hooked, nearly right hooked, and I’ve been in one crash which I don’t remember what happened since I was knocked out and don’t remember 15 seconds before the crash either. I think that was my own fault for trying to get around a construction obstruction that I must have failed at performing. Lesson learned: road bike helmets don’t protect you when you get hit in the front of the face. My coworker had a similar thing happen to him. He woke up in the ICU and they said they found him in the middle of the intersection. He was on a hands-free call with a coworker and the coworker just heard the line go dead.
It’s really crazy to know that each time you go out to bike somewhere you could be hit and only the driver knows what happened and you could be left to die. I’ve been using a camera now on all my trips.
All the time. On my ride to work, I go right through central NE and SE and share the roads with traffic a lot. I am always super vigilant and aware that with so many drivers with eyes on their phones while they drive, I have to be hyper aware and anticipate their moves more than ever. Definitely becoming more dangerous with each year.
Yes, I have biked many high-speed, high-traffic Oregon highways and Portland arterial streets. It can be scary as hell with adequate biking and other roadway safety infrastructure. Obviously, marked bike lanes help, separated bikeways are better, parallel quiet streets that are priorities for peds and bikes, a.k.a. neighborhood greenways, are great options.
Bicycling to work in Portland is at its lowest point in 12 years. What do you think is causing that and what are two things we can do to increase bicycling in Portland?
I am eager to help solve the paradox of declining bike commuting in Portland. Over the past decade, the experience of driving in the city has gotten worse. Portland’s biking infrastructure has improved. Yet, bike commuting in Portland has decreased. There are several likely causes for this surprising outcome. I suspect there is a correlation between macroeconomic conditions and bike commuting. For example, when the economy is strong and gas prices are low, as they have been for the past decade, we should expect bike commuting to fall. Over the past decade, commuting patterns have changed. More people are working at home, and more lower income residents have been priced out of bikeable, close-in neighborhoods. Despite improvements to cycling infrastructure, increased car traffic over the past decade has made biking in Portland more intimidating and dangerous. Portlanders have changed. The average age of Portlanders has increased, many of the people who have moved to Portland in the last decade are new to biking culture. Currently, a lot of Portland’s public discussion around cycling is inaccessible or off putting to people who are new to biking.
Despite these challenges, I believe there are strategies we could adopt to increase bike commuting in Portland. First, let’s finish implementing the Portland Bike Master Plan. Ten years after adopting the 2030 Portland Bike Master Plan, PBOT has only completed 1/4 of the action items in the Plan and 1/8th of the planned miles of bicycle lanes. Second, let’s renew Portland’s cycling culture, within an emphasis on inclusion, equity, public health, public education, and fun. We can remake our biking culture by using public works, public art, and public events to celebrate cycling and our city.
Gentrification and displacement have pushed thousands of low and moderate-income Portlanders out of inner neighborhoods where bicycling is a more safe and practical transportation option. That’s not the only reason, but it’s a significant contributing factor that often gets overlooked.
I’ll offer three things we can do to increase bicycling:
1) My office has begun work on a project to improve our network of Neighborhood Greenways–taking a holistic approach as we did with the Rose Lane Project–with a focus on achieving equitable outcomes.
2) Engaging with BIPOC communities and investing in an equitable expansion of our bicycle infrastructure is crucial. All Portlanders deserve to benefit from bicycle infrastructure.
3) My office is exploring the viability of a program to help people purchase e-bikes. E-bikes not only increase the number of people who can practically ride a bike but also they increase the distance of a practical bike commute.
There are a number of factors at play here. Density limitations and urban design are key, as well as fluctuations in transportation policy, disinvestment in connecting transit systems, the price of carbon/oil, the lack of regulation and growth in ride-sharing systems that have not just eaten into transit, but have reduced bike transit.
Public transit and pedestrian safety are actually key to supporting a good biking system. People who ride bikes also use pedestrian areas more than those who go into parking garages for cars. Fewer car drivers mean safer streets overall. Those who have bike issues can switch to transit trips in emergencies. For many reasons a holistic approach to transit helps bicycle advocates get safer streets even if you only ride your bike.
Still on transportation management, the city has been slow to enforce the recently reduced speed limits and to focus on pedestrian safety particularly out where bike trips have risen versus the rest of the city: East Portland. As gentrification has happened in the inner parts of the city including the inner eastside, the people who have economic reasons to use a more efficient mode of transit got pushed further out. Many of these people would have had to switch to using transit in order to go the distance, or even to start driving a car in order to get all the things they need done in the day completed (there are hard constraints on time for child care, schools, activities, etc.) As the city ages, bike ridership would be expected to go down as well. The city is definitely less inviting to younger generations than it used to be.
Probably most importantly, we need to effectively price carbon and transportation choices that involve single occupancy vehicle uses. No matter what you do to improve efficiency of transportation, if you don’t price what you want to change in a way for people of all income levels feel the same impact, you won’t get resource reduction. To me this is non-negotiable and is mandatory for meeting our climate goals.
Lastly, the built environment is also critical. The first issue is parking policy. With room for subsidized parking or mandatory parking for cars in new development, in existing public garages and surfaces, or on city streets, people find it efficient to store their cars in many separate places at home, at work, while shopping or other errands. The city itself lacks enough bike parking and doesn’t require secure bike parking for many places where they should exist, even for public buildings.
A second issue regarding the built environment has to do with the nature of transportation and its relationship to density. In cities with medium sized density (typical European sized 4-6 story building), you tend to find biking is very efficient because while plenty of smaller things are walkable, other amenities will often be biking distance away. With few types of buildings being erected that fit with a bike culture you will see a lack of growth in cycling. I would like to see what we have been doing with Residential Infill Program and to expand the areas around commercial cores as areas where we can build medium rise buildings.
Another potential issue is that there’s something of an arms race in cycling where if you are in a bike lane and you can’t afford an e-bike, you get passed all the time, and given the narrow lanes, that’s not always comfortable, nor ideal in a world where social distancing is ideal. We need to reconfigure our streets to add multiple bike lanes on fast streets with bike lanes. On boulevard streets this is less of an issue, since you can essentially use the whole lane already, but on streets with narrow bike lanes, bikes are expected to stay in the bike lane and passing often involves having to jockey with car congestion in the adjacent lane. I’d require double lanes especially as you get into more congested streets during rush hour.
To solve the speeding and irresponsible driving, I’d make traffic and parking fines be based on income so that all were effected equally, with perhaps an additional factor based on the retail price of the car if it’s newer than 10 years old. Maybe the sports car drivers on Skyline will change their behavior once they see the next ticket.
Portlanders feel unsafe. In campaign events and discussions, the unsheltered homelessness crisis is a significant concern. I road to work this past Sunday using the I-205 bike path and there were approximately 100 tents on and off the path. This is similar to the Springwater Trail and many main bike routes in Portland. Walking, biking and transit ridership is falling. The only mode of transportation that is climbing is automobile use. Between 2013 and 2018 we added 35,000 cars to the road. An increase of 20%.
Homeless encampments are illegal. Allowing our citizens to camp our streets is misguided compassion. Allowing our neighbors to die on our streets is not compassionate at all. We need to engage our police and justice system, not in a punitive fashion but to uphold our laws and values… The Mayor, City Council, Police, Fire, justice system and homeless service agencies all work together to communicate to homeless encampments that illegal camping is not allowed and follow up immediately and as needed. No bureaucracy, just a partnership that involves all stakeholders. Our city council has removed this partnership and replaced with an ineffective cleaning company.
We must provide for our most vulnerable by providing Safety, Shelter, Security and Sleep. As a city council person, I will establish a network of Pop-Up Shelters using parking garages and spaces that are left empty at night.
In 2005, with PBOT’s great staff, my staff, and community input, we researched what it would take to get more bike trips taken by more Portlanders, more often. We identified what kind of potential bike rider was most likely to start or increase their biking, if the perception and reality of safety was improved. We did not have funds to build many separated bike lanes. So, we leaned into establishing Greenways, quiet streets that prioritize for bikes and that paralleled busy arterial streets. I also held annual safety summits, where we identified a running list of the City’s 25 most dangerous places in the street system. For the first time anyone could remember, I successfully obtained millions from the general fund from the City Council to address them: a lot of safety investments where in East Portland and around schools and transit stops.
The City stopped holding annual safety summits, and the awful increasing number pedestrian and bike injuries and deaths are likely, in part, a result of this inattention.
We need to deeply research why ridership is down, who stopped riding and why, who would consider biking and what it will take to actually get them to do it. I have my theories, so do a lot of others. We need to test them all with an update to the 2005 study.
Why is it so important for cycling to remain a high priority issue in City Hall?
Cycling plays an important role in my vision for our city’s culture, economy, environment, public health and public safety strategies. Biking plays an important role in Portland’s culture, identity and economy. We should celebrate that. Cycling plays an important role in my economic development strategy. My goal is to reinvent Portland’s economy so that it produces less pollution. Increasing biking is one strategy for getting us there. Small businesses are the backbone of Portland’s economy, and bike friendly neighborhoods tend to be great places to run a small business. Portland needs to reduce the amount of carbon pollution it produces. Biking is a great strategy for achieving that goal. Resilient cities need efficient and diversified transportation systems. If Portland is going to be a high functioning city, we must reduce traffic congestion. Increasing bike commuting will get cars off the road. Public health benefits of biking are tremendous.
Cycling promotes good health and thus helps bring down health care costs in our community. At the same time, in too many of Portland’s neighborhoods, biking is still not safe. So one of City Council’s core missions has to build safe, cycling infrastructure in all of our city’s neighborhoods.
Biking is a critical green transportation option, but it’s not a viable option for too many of our residents, especially BIPOC communities and low-income households. Creating a safe and equitable bicycle infrastructure network across the whole city is necessary to meet both our equity and climate goals.
Cycling as always is the most efficient form of personal transportation, apart from telecommuting, which isn’t really transportation, and not everything can be done remotely (as employers are finding out right now). Cycling is even better than e-biking, although I find nothing wrong with e-bikes for those who could use the extra power. The range extensions will make e-bikes a lot more viable as car replacement for single family homes going forward and I know people who do deliveries on e-bikes and they love how efficiently it keeps their overhead costs low. Beyond a certain amount of traveling, e-bikes are overall more efficient than fully human-powered bikes due to conversion losses from food calories and the expense of food calories versus electric power generation.
The conversion of car facilities to support both e-bikes and non-e-bikes is crucial to helping reverse climate change, and the city keeps making promises about how we’ll help do our part, but the city is not moving anwywhere near fast enough to get the issue under control. Winning the pseudo-war against cars is going to be critical. I call it a pseudo-war because there will always be need for a variety of sizes of vehicles and types of vehicles that carry equipment and goods and even people around where bikes aren’t optimal. I mean to ensure we have a transportation system that is accessible to all, not just the lucky few who have no injuries or issues that would impact their ability to ride bikes. We really need a war on “irresponsible car operation.”
The city still has quite a few cars in its fleet for city workers that could be managed much more efficiently if they were transitioned to ride bikes (especially e-bikes) for such trips. I’m also a big fan of bike trailers, and even when high amounts of gear are required, trailers are great. We could save money and the environment at the same time.
Further, there’s the issue of air pollution. Even if cars transition to 100% electric and their batteries were being used to smooth out the electricity grid from renewable generation, there is the fact that cars emit significant amounts of rubber particulate from rubber tires versus bicycles. But since we have to reduce in size the fossil fuel powered car fleet fairly quickly anyways, we may as well just heavily push people into bikes and e-bikes. Let’s not forget that electric cars aren’t really any safer. They are heavy and potentially cause more damage than traditional cars.
Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic appears to be affecting people who are exposed to worse air pollution more than those with access to clean air, per two different studies in the US and Europe. While I was biking around the city I frequently smelled toxic emissions and since I was going slower was able to see my surroundings better and noticed industries with stacks. I got curious a few years back and started doing public records requests with the state to see if it was possible to determine emissions. I found out after a year of fighting that DEQ had only been publishing total limits and had not been tracking emissions at all for most polluters, so we really had no idea how bad the air was. I spent weeks at the state offices scanning environmental reviews and mapping them and putting them online. When Bullseye news broke, I had, only a month before, published all the data online and neighbors from 40+ organizations started using the data to learn about their local polluters. If I wasn’t on my bike, I may have just ignored it because my own tailpipe was contributing to the problem as well. There are plenty more reasons such as better fitness and cardiovascular health, better community awareness, and raising children in a more healthy world.
My two core values are Livability and Mobility. Biking is key to improving both. We need to build up, not out. With this focus, our roads will not be able to accommodate our growing population if we grow automobile use at the same proportion. Increasing and improving walking, biking and public transportation is the solution. Bikes require very little resources and provide a significant return on investment with improved wellness and carbon reduction, two key elements of a healthy society.
To meet our health, carbon emission reduction goals, traffic congestion reduction and quality of life targets, to save household money from having to own a automobile, biking must be a high priority for Portland city government. The total cost/benefit of a bike trip versus a transit trip or an auto trip, is exponentially better for the individual and community. Even those who never plan to bike, should support those that do because of less congestion, less pollution and so on.
Do you think PBOT should respond to how the pandemic has impacted streets and how we use them? If not, why not? If so, what do you think they should do?
We are heading toward a “new normal” which is going to require Portland to rethink how it organizes its public spaces. Social distancing has made our infrastructure obsolete. Car traffic is down. Our sidewalks are too crowded. We are going to be going out less and taking out more. Portland’s recovery from the Covid crisis depends on our ability to reimagine and reorganize our public spaces. I look forward to helping Portland think through these puzzles. In an age of social distancing, Portlanders need more to walk, bike, run, and line up. That is why I support closing some streets to car traffic and activating our neighborhood greenways.
It is also time to reimagine how public space and public culture works. Many of our summer traditions like street fairs, parades, and concerts are not going to happen. That’s why my campaign is encouraging Portlanders to organize block parties this summer.
Yes, this public health crisis will impact the way that Portlanders get around and share public space for the foreseeable future. Now that we have a better sense of how the virus spreads and what the reasonable safety precautions and social distancing practices are, it’s time to start reallocating public space to support a variety of uses.
This week, under my leadership, PBOT announced our New Slow Streets | Safe Streets Initiative. There are three components: 1. Slow down traffic on our existing Neighborhood Greenway system using barricades and signage to allow safe use for pedestrians and cyclists. 2. Work with the business community to repurpose parking spaces to support social distancing practices, such as pick up/drop off zones and safely spaced queues for customers. 3. Create “pop-up” pedestrian and bicycle paths in areas with inadequate or non-existent active transportation infrastructure.
Yes, absolutely. It’s been disappointing to see that swift action was not taken to begin closing off streets and reserving them to non-car uses.
There was no need to block off streets in such a way that cars couldn’t go around them if needed. There was also no reason to enforce closures in a way that would involve police action, particularly at first. The idea that we should have a long drawn out process during an emergency when times demand political leadership is ignoring the entire point we still have elected leadership (we can’t do everything by ballot measures, although I use that avenue frequently, such as the recent campaign finance reform wins).
We do still want to have an extensive public input process, but we can do that in parallel with experimentation. We should immediately restrict parking near intersections and provide for the next parking space at places with commercial zoning to be pickup and drop-off locations for deliveries and people. I’d have worked with other commissioners to get that through as quickly as possible while we have so few cars on the road. The cars will come back as the pandemic lifts and if we don’t do the things we should have done long before the pandemic now that would also help out the situation, I don’t know that we’ll ever have opportunities like this for a very long time.
Our governors Stay Home, Save Lives has reduced traffic significantly. In Portland, our most populous city, we must continue to be focused on social distancing. In my transportation business, I preach safety. My edict is “If you think you should have taken a safety precaution, you are already too late.” We should reduce and remove traffic from Neighborhood Greenways. These bike and pedestrian centric roads need to be a priority to encourage safe mobility and are experiencing a significant increase in use during the Stay Home order. Our community’s health is our top priority right now. Closing some and certain roads signals that we are in this together and safety is our top priority.
PBOT’s natural creative and innovative DNA has been stifled lately. It could not get the Rose Lane, bus priority lanes, implemented as fast as other cities. Prioritizing safe exercise and passageway on quiet local streets, like Oakland, CA and other cities around the world, during the stay-at-home order, is just another symptom of a Portland’s deeply demoted standing as a municipal mobility mojo innovator.
If you were in charge of PBOT, what would you do to make cycling more attractive and safe east of 82nd?
City Hall has failed Portlanders who live east of 82nd for at least a generation. I used to work at 112th and NE Sandy Boulevard. Too many roads east of 82nd are essentially freeways that cut through residential neighborhoods. I am running for office, because I know what it is like to spend three years lobbying PBOT for basic infrastructure for East Portland, like crosswalks or paving the paths that we tell parents are “safe routes to schools.”Terrible infrastructure has consequences. East of 82nd, pedestrians are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car than Portlanders in other parts of the city. Further, because of East Portland demographic makeup, these deaths tend to be concentrated in Portland’s poorest and most diverse neighborhoods. This is a classic example of how structural racism works.
I am running for City Council because leaders in City Hall need to recognize the urgency of this equity problem. I am excited about two projects which would bring transportation equity to East Portland– the “East Portland Arterial Streets Strategy” and efforts to build more greenways in East Portland. The “East Portland Arterial Streets Strategy” will produce a “design concept for every city street with four or more lanes east of 82nd Avenue. Also, I am a strong supporter of building out neighborhood greenways in East Portland. Currently, PBOT plans to build about 30 miles of greenways in East Portland. I think we need more safe biking routes than that.
I am in charge of PBOT, and we are making significant investments in safer infrastructure East of 82nd Ave. To make up for past underinvestment, I have supported significantly focusing our transportation investments in East Portland. Here’s a link to a map with details about recent projects: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/74199 I successfully advocated for including major safety investments into 82nd Ave itself in the regional transportation measure. I also support developing an e-bike purchase program focused on benefitting people in East Portland who face longer commutes than people living in inner neighborhoods.
I’ve touched on this above, but I want to add that East Portland has seen significant disinvestment since it was annexed due to our commissioner at-large election form of government. If the PBOT commissioner never goes out there, they never see the unpaved roads, lack of sidewalks, lack of pedestrian facilities, and how inconvenient the dividing freeway is. We need a mixed-member proportional representation system to ensure that East Portland has at least 3 councilors representing them. We need more councilors and switch to a city manager model where we have part time representatives and separate executive leadership.
I strongly believe that locals often know best how the city is failing them and through empowering the entire city both by a diversity of viewpoints (proportional representation) and by district, we can ensure directly on council all voices are able to be heard and can extract what has prevented equal treatment for East Portland for decades.
East of 82nd has one Neighborhood Greenway. Many are planned and unfunded. We need to prioritize East Portland with adding and building our Neighborhood Greenways. We must budget and build at a proportion more than any part of our city. This will show Portland’s core value of equity and inclusion is truly guiding us.
As transportation commissioner, we worked with Jason Tell, who was ODOT Region 1 Director at the time, using state and city funds to help improve 82nd Avenue. Clearly, much more was needed but we didn’t let artificial bureaucratic boundaries and jurisdictions stand in the way of making improvements to the most dangerous places. Like at the MAX light rail stop [on 82nd], we made changes and deeply reduced deaths and injuries. We need that kind of thinking and doing for 82nd Ave again. A key needed change: We need to get that actual average speed much closer to the posted speed. We need more safe crossing for pedestrians and bikes. 82nd Avenue need two or three times as many traffic lights as it now has. Cars racing between distant traffic lights and pedestrians and bikes trying to cross in between at un-signalized intersections is needlessly injuring and killing too many people. More signals has the added benefit of making the businesses along 82nd more accessible too.
Stay tuned next week when we share responses from candidates for Portland mayor and council positions 1 and 2. See all our 2020 Election coverage here.
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Here is to hoping there are questions/answers about urban mountain biking.
Nope. Sorry Cyclekrieg. That wasn’t on my list this time. Maybe I should have. Thanks for the reminder.
Never too late to send a “oops, I forgot something…” email. 🙂
I appreciate the focus you had on East Portland for the questions. I was disappointed by Sam’s clueless response to ‘East of 82nd’, but that’s Sam for you. And I understand you could only ask so many questions, but I admit I’m surprised by the lack of questions on the Rose Quarter, the huge PBOT deficit, and yes, on mountain biking in Portland too.
David (and others),
Here on BP I try to always focus on stuff that doesn’t get covered anywhere else. There are tons of other places to read about Rose Quarter project (including here!). My goal was for them to hear about cycling. Specifically cycling. Not PBOT budget or other issues. Not enough people in this town are talking about cycling! As for the MTB thing. That was a mistake. If I could do it over again I would have asked about that. Also keep in mind that I wanted every candidate to have the exact same questions and when doing something like this you must respect their time. So it’s not like I was going to send a follow up email to all of them about MTB.
I hope these Q&As are helpful. I will strive to do better in the general (there will be runoffs!) and in future elections. Thanks.
They are very helpful, thank you. Maybe NWTA should be asking about that issue given it is an important focus for them. Even though it isn’t my most pressing concern, it is important enough that it could influence my final decision between two (or more) candidates I am struggling to decide between.
I watched the entire Willamette Week video from their Q&A with the candidates (close to 90 minutes). I went in thinking I would vote for Mingus but left thinking I will probably vote for Sam Adams who was at the bottom of my list of candidates before I heard them all. Chloe really seemed thin skinned and a single issue person. She dropped down to the absolute bottom of my list. Seth and Mingus both were good but not as good as Sam. This Q&A did not change my rankings but was very informative. Thanks Jonathan.
Because of her personal experiences, she seems to discount the idea that cycling is a transportation option for anyone other than privileged white people who live close to downtown. I grew up biking in hilly/hostile SW Portland, and I now bike in outer-east Portland several times per week. Are there additional challenges for families out here? Sure. It still comes down to personal decisions, though.
Chloe runs PBOT, so she can’t just wave her hand and say that they are doing a lot in outer-East, because they aren’t. Where are her plans for new neighborhood routes? Why isn’t she pleading with the Mayor to step up enforcement efforts? The speeding out her is outrageous. I have trouble crossing major streets on a daily basis out here because I can’t tell if the multi-lane traffic heading towards me is going 30mph or 60mph. It’s completely lawless.
Chloe sounds like “interested but concerned”. She may not have done all I might want, and other people definitely have some great ideas, but she has to defend a record of real stuff as opposed to what she might wish for.
Based on what I’m seeing on the street, Chloe is anticipating the movement of her constituency toward e-bikes. My personal position on e-bikes is “interested but concerned”.
Seconded on the question requests re: urban Mountain Biking as well as the off-road master plan.
Thank you for asking about making east of 82nd attractive and safe. That is an important issue for me!
Thanks, Jonathan, for getting these responses from the candidates.
One thing that stood out for me was the difference between Mingus’s answers and Chloe’s answers. Chloe seems to view everything through an “equity” lens, which is really an “inequity” lens (“I have a grievance against y’all and I’m coming for ya!”). Yet there’s Mingus, who is actually in the community Chloe says she wants to raise up, and he seems calm and fair-minded about everything, not nursing some deep sense of grievance and carrying it around with him everywhere.
It all tells me that Chloe just isn’t ready for the hard work of being a politician, of building consensus and uniting people. She wants to divide people – that’s her go-to strategy. I’m tired of it and I’m ready for someone like Mingus or Sam who can bring people together on the issues we all care about, such as getting around Portland by bike – something we all want to do and should be able to do.
Chloe Eudaly is taking heat here for doing what I think is the right thing for a person of European descent who is a sitting government official. If 400 years of cruelly taking the lives and labor of other people doesn’t grieve a person, whose side are you on?
This isn’t all in the past, not by a long chalk. I still remember when, in my home town, an area where African American people lived was leveled to build a strip mall. Urban development.
See: ‘The Color of Law’, Richard Rothstein, Liveright Publishing, 2018. If you’re a zoning nerd and you haven’t read this book, read this book now.
Have we forgotten how poor a job Sam did as mayor? The fact that he has failed in his positions since then to come back to run for a city council seat pretty much says all we need to know about him – an idealist with no actual plan to get things done. Plus the whole affair with an 18-year old intern thing that I’m still amazed got as little attention as it did…
The affair with a teenage intern was why he was so low in my initial rankings of candidates. 2009 was a very rough time economically. I think he did a better job than Potter and Hales and they had a much better economy. I’m willing to separate what people do in their private life and what they do at work. I know many people that have messy personal relationships but are effective in their jobs and do good things. I would have no problem voting Mingus but at this point Sam would be my choice.
I really like what the Portland Tribune had to say about it.
“Let’s bypass the scandal that plagued his one term as mayor: a consensual and sexual relationship with a then-18-year-old legislative intern. Since the Oregon attorney general later reported finding no evidence of inappropriate sexual conduct before the intern reached the age of consent, that’s not the reason for our non-endorsement.
The Adams’ administration was plagued by haphazard budget decisions, including dozens of good causes funded with “one-time funds,” but over and over again, year after year, with no bureau oversight. He’s the author of the unpopular and often-repaired Arts Tax. He tried to create an urban renewal area around Portland State University to address urban blight that hardly exists. He left City Hall and served for a short period of time as executive director for the City Club of Portland, where insiders tell us the same slap-dash budget system nearly capsized that organization.”
The guy was a leadership and a budget disaster. I don’t really get the old Portland obsession with Sam, maybe its because I wasn’t around to party and do drugs with him back in the day like the rest of you?
Bye bye Chloe!
Smart to distinguish between cycling for transportation and cycling for recreation.
I love Chloe’s statement: “This week, under my leadership, PBOT announced our New Slow Streets | Safe Streets Initiative.” Right. You did this after WEEKS of people (including Jonathan Maus) asking/begging for this. You followed, Chloe, you did NOT LEAD!
Sam Adams has my vote.
I’m disappointed by the self deprecating first opening sentence. They are dismissing you in circles precisely because cyclists are a threat to the next gas tax they are asking for. Now if we all just voted for Sarah I. She can sort out PBOT better then anybody else in the room at this point. I absolutely disagree that PBOT is full of people who really want to do awesome things. This is gaslighting. PBOT will tell you what you want to hear, dismiss you and later wring their hands about how they want to do more. They had zero protected bike lanes in the tax gas increase. They werent even trying.
I will NEVER consider voting for Sarah Iannarone, ever, in light of this story: https://www.koin.com/news/politics/iannarone-joins-suit-against-wheeler-for-illegal-campaign-contributions/ . Very Trump-esque of her, to get another body investigate an opponent while running against him. We don’t need that.
So, Portland voters approved a $500 limit for campaign contributions, but then it went to the courts to decide constitutionality. Meanwhile, Ted kept taking contributions above the limit, contrary to the desires of his constituents. So Iannarone and others sued him. Probably in large part to draw attention to the fact that he kept taking big donations after the voters said to stop.
Doesn’t seem especially Trumpian to me.
I have no problem with someone who’s not a direct political opponent suing him. However, if you’re running for office against someone, it’s something you just don’t do. Leave it to others. Note that I’m by no means defending Wheeler, who certainly shouldn’t have taken the donations and should pay whatever price the courts decide.
It’s also important to be able to recognize what kinds of decisions most people will make in certain situations, regardless of feasibility.
Outer East is bad and I have no doubts that adding good infrastructure would make a dramatic change percentagewise. But the raw numbers would still be low because there are a bunch of other reasons people still won’t want to ride. Think about how little it takes to dissuade people near the core where infrastructure and choice is everywhere, traffic is easy, and distances are short.
In addition, it’s important to recognize is that cycling is a true choice for most readers here.
People who’ve been forced to walk , take forever to get places on buses, or cycle in miserable conditions didn’t get to choose that — and they aspire to escape what’s been forced on them, not have more of it. If you want to talk about car culture and pretend that those with limited means don’t love them for fairly sensible reasons, you’re part of the reason cycling infrastructure is associated with gentrification rather than helping working stiffs and those of limited means.
I am encouraged by some of the answers given to the questions — they were better than what I was expecting.
The best person for the job, the one having the most common sense, will NOT be the one chosen by voters.
I’m always surprised by how little love Chloe Eudaly gets in these comments. People seem to fault her for both being insufficiently bold and overly divisive. She’s not perfect, and she’s made some tactical errors. But she’s done far more to advance the interrelated causes of biking/transit/housing than any other Portland commissioner in my memory.
So, be careful what you wish for. Sam Adams and Mingus Mapps may talk the talk to get votes, but their true constituencies are the business community and NIMBYs respectively.
Someone is faulting her for being bold? News to me…
Chloe gets hate because she is all talk. At the end of the day she puts parking spaces above human lives. Of course that’s going to get hate.
In 50 years of Council watching I have seen many members and many changes.
The worst members always have been those who came out of staff positions for incumbent members–looking at you, Erik Sten, all time absolutely worst council member ever.
This criterion disqualifies Mingus and (doubly) Sam, inmates determined to be running the asylum. Our Council depends and thrives upon dedicated outsiders to face vital issues and tame the bureaucratic beast in the name of public weal.
Whomever you select DO NOT BUY THE CANARD THAT WE MUST CHANGE TO A CITY-MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT! In the 1970s and 1980s both Frank Ivancie and Bud Clark, successive mayors and opponents, correctly saw that the great strength of our form of government is councilors directly answerable to citizens. Later they joined in opposing the last initiative to change it.
If one does one’s homework on issues of interest and pays attention to how Council functions one can participate in our politics to substantial effect . In that respect we are nearly unique.
Curious what your issue with Erik Sten was. I remember him being my favorite council member. I can think of plenty of “outsiders” new to city council that I did not like.
A city-manager form of government is not the only alternative to Portland’s current system. A strong-mayor system, where all the executive branch powers are with an elected mayor, is the norm in other large American cities.
You know what all this extra biking lanes tells me as a senior citizen who can’t ride a bike??? I feel like you are giving the rest of the population of Portland the finger. You are making it more dangerous for people in cars trying to navigate the streets. And it does the same thing to the disabled
From that perspective, how would you expect those of us without cars to interpret the lack of bike lanes / infrastructure on most roads around here?
Sounds like people who are healthier and more able bodied than average are presenting themselves as a disadvantaged class and telling those who are less so to suck it up.
If you don’t feel confident navigating the streets due to your age I suggest that you might take that as a sign that you should not be driving a car. A friend of mine disconnected the ignition on his aunt’s car and reported her to the DMV because she was very dangerous to herself and others when driving. The DMV required her to pass a driving test which she failed and her licence was revoked. Anyone that sees an elderly driver struggling to drive safely should report that driver so they can be re-examined.
“East of 82nd has one Neighborhood Greenway.” – Wilson
SE Bush, and SE 100/101 are both east of 82nd. The (incomplete) 80’s greenway is east of 82nd. The short Steele connection, 92nd to 100th, is there also.
Dave Barry once wrote that the fundamental problem of Washington D. C. was that it was inhabited almost entirely by ex-high school student-body presidents.
In fourth grade there always was one snotty little self-involved loud-mouth who richly deserved to be punched out on general principle.
Possibly one and the same.
Sten was professionally obnoxious, inconsiderate, impolite to peers, dismissive of people appearing before Council. He was in politics only to be playing the game, to be manipulating others, to be validating himself, exactly what he was doing in Gretchen Kafoury’s office. He promoted many flamboyant ideas, but accomplished nothing. Ultimately he was caught out attempting to bend public funding for Council candidates, which he advocated, to his own advantage, and “retired.” Double-dealing to the end.
The best one can say is that he was replaced by Nick Fish: intelligent, competent, dedicated, effective, honest, polite, friendly. When Amanda Fritz’s husband was killed in a car crash on I 5 Nick immediately got a city car and drove her to the scene. His family has had a record of public service for more than a century. Nick was the paradigm of what public service should be.
So was Mike Lindberg, who nearly worked himself to death on Council. Stage right to left: Charles Jordan, Mike Lindberg, Bud Clark, Mildred Schwab, Margaret Strachan; not a weak link in the lot; my all time favorite Council.
Charles Jordan was the most brilliant Councilor ever, the most poised, the most eloquent, the most elegant.
I still have an issue hanging from that Council. My technical interest is acoustics of concert halls, so I contrived a ploy to advance it during the Performing Arts project. I never actually said that I had solved the problem, but repeatedly predicted the many mistakes that inevitably arose. Four members were confused, but Charles figured me out. Before his final illness we encountered each other in City Hall. He smiled and we shared a laugh.
Yikes. Sten’s profile in the Oregonian is a bit more flattering:
I am an older woman who biked to work downtown in 1971 – a real weirdo at the time. I had always enjoyed riding until I couldn’t: first, delivering kids to daycare and getting to work on time was beyond my ability. Then I became a consultant to non-profits in accounting and they are scattered all over town – not possible to get there by bike. Then I got older and discovered certain body parts couldn’t tolerate sitting on a bike seat for more than a couple of miles.
I have been hit twice by negligent drivers – I do understand that it helps a lot when biking is safer.
That said, I have trouble supporting the bike enthusiasm here when it comes to its focus on changing streets around. I haven’t seen anything but contempt for folks who drive. What about finding a common goal now and then – such as fixing the street’s surface so they are safer for everyone, or replacing illegible street signs so everyone (esp drivers with less than perfect eyesight) can easily see where they are? If people don’t have to strain to see those, they will be better able to see cyclists on the road.
A big part of the decline in bike commuting is the cost of housing pushing people who would commute by bike out to neighborhoods with terrible infrastructure. Eudaly’s renter protection efforts are the only policy changes I have seen in decades that do anything to address that issue.
The Rose Lane project is biggest thing to happen in safe streets/active transportation in the region in two decades.
I voted for Eudaly because these two items are examples of accomplishment that literally no other candidate can match. I don’t even hear anyone with an idea that matches the impact or potential of these two projects – not just for cycling, but for the health of the city overall.
She should be rewarded for doing this work.
Excellent answers from Mingus – he has my vote.
As usual when the spotlight is on Eudaly, she turned me off even more.