Portland resident David Binnig cc’d us on this message to Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. He wrote Hardesty in response to her comments at last weeks Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting:
I’ve appreciated your leadership on city council, and your commitment to making Portland’s streets safer. I was surprised by some of your comments in last week’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, and wanted to offer my perspective on why safe main-street bike routes are important, why you might not always hear from constituents about these issues, and why PBOT’s current plans have been met with some frustration by people who do follow bike policy in Portland.
I’ve commuted mostly by bicycle since I moved to Portland in 2004—now because I enjoy it, but also for several years when I was younger because my car rusted out, I couldn’t afford a new one, and our buses don’t run late enough to reliably get a bartender home from work.
For ten years I worked at a restaurant in SE Portland, and the backyard of the property was regularly filled with bicycles belonging to my coworkers—servers and cooks, some of them young, some of them immigrants. You wouldn’t have heard from many of us about transportation bureau policy choices—partly because we weren’t necessarily engaged in local politics, but also because biking wasn’t our industry, or passion, or lifestyle; we were just trying to get to work.
Several of my restaurant coworkers have been seriously injured in bicycle collisions—a young man who was hospitalized for months with a fractured spine after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on SW Barbur; a woman who was harassed by a driver and caught a wheel in a rail track on the central east side. Again, they wouldn’t necessarily have seen themselves as belonging to a “cycling community”: they were just trying to get home from their shifts.
For people who do follow bike issues, the frustration here comes from a history of unmet commitments. I like and admire all of the PBOT staff I’ve met; I think the plan for SE Hawthorne is an improvement over the status quo and more than expected for a pave-and-paint project; I recognize that funds are limited. But Portland has a repeated pattern—not only in transportation—of rhetorically committing to a vision for the future and then blinking when it’s time to execute it.
As you’ve now heard, separated bike lanes on the full length of SE Hawthorne are a part of the 2030 Bicycle Plan, unanimously adopted by Portland’s city council in 2010. But before that, Portland’s *1996* Bicycle Master Plan proposed to have bike lanes on Hawthorne within 5-10 years (https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/ncp-trn-6-01-40414.pdf). Hawthorne isn’t unique in this respect: there are dozens of streets where the city has long-unfulfilled plans for biking improvements. But it’s disillusioning, and galling, that twenty-five years after planning for bike lanes on this street, the city actively considered them, then again chose to postpone them indefinitely. None of that history is your responsibility—probably it reflects longstanding institutional challenges of our city government—but as our transportation commissioner, you’re in a position to do something about it.
As I’ve said, I appreciate your outspoken commitment to reducing the death toll of Portland’s streets, and I want to emphasize that that goal is not in conflict with improvements for people on bicycles. On Hawthorne in particular, three car lanes are safer than four—but as you know, the three-lane layout is what we already have in the section of Hawthorne where Fallon Smart was killed. Just last week my wife and young daughter were crossing Hawthorne on foot near that spot, and were narrowly missed by a driver who used the center lane to pass a stopped TriMet bus. Reducing the number of auto lanes can make room for bike lanes and also reduce the crossing distance and possibility of passing collisions for people on foot; reducing the width of driving lanes can allow for better-protected bike facilities while also promoting slower driving speeds. More broadly, if we can make Portland a city where more people can confidently travel on 25-pound bikes rather than in one-ton cars or two-ton trucks, that will also make our streets safer for the most vulnerable users.
I had written this email, and then yesterday afternoon was running errands on Hawthorne, east of Chavez, when a driver repeatedly honked at me and yelled that I should “use the bike lane.” As you know, there is no bike lane in this part of Hawthorne: he thought that rather than going six blocks in a straight line—from the liquor store to the grocery—I should double my trip by detouring to Lincoln and back. Two things struck me about this: first, that driver is another constituent who would benefit from bike lanes, if only because they’d get people like me out of his way. More gravely, Portland’s reliance on greenways as bike routes contributes to drivers’ sense that people on bicycles *don’t belong* on the streets where actual jobs, destinations, and businesses are—and that in turn fuels the harassment that makes biking an uncomfortable choice for people who don’t already have years of experience.
Commissioner Hardesty, in your time on city council I’ve been impressed by your willingness to listen. I hope that you’ll continue to work for safer streets throughout Portland—including safe bike routes on our major streets—and that you’ll push for the Bureau of Transportation to live up to the commitments the city made a decade ago, and that literally generations of Portlanders have now advocated for.
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Nicely written David.
YES! I agree with every single thing here, David, well done. Let’s get some bike lanes on Hawthorne already! If it goes beyond the budget to put in separated lanes, just do painted bike lanes. I know some folks say they don’t help but as a lifelong cyclist, I adore a simple bike lane over complicated inconsistent infrastructure. I often picture a busy parking lot with or without lines. Drivers know how to drive within the lines, let’s help them to stop hurting and killing cyclists.
Very well written letter. Unfortunately I’m afraid it will fall on deaf ears. Hardesty is at heart an activist and only has passion for a couple of issues. I don’t have much hope she will widen her perspective to work on all the important issues (like bike transportation) that she should “own” as a commissioner. We need to change our commission/weak mayor form of government as it doesn’t work having a constant rotation of inexperienced commissioners in charge of various bureaus. Also, I certainly won’t be supporting Hardesty at the next election.
Arguably, a big part of the problem is that the leadership of PBOT did not inform Commissioner Hardesty that there was such a thing as a bike plan. Do you expect that that would be different with less direct oversight of PBOT?
Oh they did. She just chose not to listen.
“More gravely, Portland’s reliance on greenways as bike routes contributes to drivers’ sense that people on bicycles *don’t belong* on the streets where actual jobs, destinations, and businesses are—and that in turn fuels the harassment that makes biking an uncomfortable choice for people who don’t already have years of experience.”
I agree about the greenway comment, but I doubt that the driver who honked knew Lincoln was a greenway. I doubt 95% of motorist have a clue greenways exist.
Greenways should be conceptually like interstates for green transportation. Few to no reasons to stop, always have right of way, long distance routes. No one gets on the interstate to go six blocks
“No one gets on the interstate to go six blocks.” Unless of course you live on or visit Hayden Island.
Of course drivers know about the greenways. They’re great cut-through alternatives to busy main streets, after all.
Thanks David for your excellent note to our transportation commissioner. I was relieved that she had the Portland “road slaughter” at the top of her list. And don’t forget her deep skepticism regarding ODOT’s madness in the Rose Quarter. Not to mention PBOT’s two cross freeway bike/ped bridges now open or soon to open…Flanders and Blumenauer Bridges.
Well written David and good luck with this. Sadly I feel our city council is a leadership vacuum and Portland as a whole s suffering greatly because of it.
Just don’t put anything bad about Hardesty on here or Jonathan won’t allow it.
Yes I am moderating comments about Commissioner Hardesty with extra sensitivity. That means readers need to be extra careful how they talk about her. Thanks.
That’s pretty vague. I have no idea why my comment was censored, or how to say it in such a way as to satisfy this previously-unannounced heightened standard. Care to provide any more guidance?
Jo Ann Hardesty is by default confrontational; she often speaks seemingly without considering others’ feelings. If people in turn return the favor, it is only fair. And she doesn’t deserve any special gentle treatment. After all, she offers, us, her constituents none. She is at the end of the day, a public figure. As she recently said in that meeting when things got “hot” “it’s ok, I can take it.”
I don’t understand Jonathan, with all due respect why you feel the need to deviate from a stance of journalistic impartiality on this topic, so many journalists these days have discarded that, to the disservice of the profession and themselves.
Wow. I totally disagree with this.
I’ve interviewed the Commissioner a few times and have watched/listened to hours of her in meetings over the years and I find her to be very open and nice most of the time. Yes she enjoys being provocative and she isn’t “Portland nice” but I think that is part of her appeal (to myself and many people). She is an activist at heart, which might be why you have this perception of her.
And what is this about me “deviating from a stance of journalistic impartiality”? I have never claimed to be impartial to anything… because that’s not possible. I am an emotional human being who has beliefs and cares about things. I am not a robot. You can spare me your lofty statements about “the profession”. I think my track record speaks for itself. Thanks for the comment.
Thanks Jonathan. However based on my interactions with her and how I observe her in city council, she Isn’t Portland nice when it suits her but she happily turns around and accuses people of not being Portland nice to her. Double standards galore, part of a bullying technique. That and “I haven’t seen that data” means “I don’t actually want to read that, this is a cop-out to end the conversation that I don’t plan on following up on.” Her staff don’t thoroughly brief her, and she doesn’t read unless it already aligns with her core issues, of which transportation is not one. Disappointing, really.
I hear you Larry. While there are something I like about Commissioner Hardesty, there are other things that are very troubling to me. As I always do, regardless of my personal feelings about elected officials, I remain deeply skeptical and constantly vigilant in my judgments of them. That’s not just because the community expects that of me, but because I think that’s just good civic responsibility. The way I feel about politicians is often very complex and nuanced… Which is one reason I get so frustrated with commenters here who try to speculate about my beliefs to fit lazy binary narratives.
Just yesterday you claimed your goal was to present the viewpoint of a neutral observer.
You are misunderstanding me. I said I was a neutral observer of the cycling scene because I am independently funded and am my own boss. And of course even that is a stretch because “neutral” means not having bias. I clearly have bias (we all do!).
Even if I agreed with your premise, you’re not talking to Commissioner Hardesty. You’re not “returning the favor” on this blog. You’re free to go talk to her in whatever way you want. Jonathan is moderating his blog for the benefit of other readers, not for the Commissioner’s.
Is this code for “why can’t I be an insensitive asshole?”
Good one! I feel you on that.
It was not my intent, but you can judge for yourself. Oh wait, no you can’t, since it was censored. But you can at least judge the veracity of my account for yourself.
My comment was sarcastic, even mocking in tone, referencing Hardesty’s comment about people who think biking gives them special powers and privileges. I thought it was especially poignant in the context of this wonderful piece to emphasize Hardesty’s clueless remark about who rides a bike in Portland. Indeed, that seems to be David’s thesis!
So, I guess I would say that I wasn’t being an insensitive asshole. But I admit that sometimes it comes naturally to me.
Seriously though, since you asked, I want to be clear that I was not commenting on anything other than what Hardesty said. I do not abide any of the racist, sexist, and other nonsensical abuse Hardesty gets on a daily basis (I’m sure). And I did not say anything of the sort. Nor would I ever do such a thing.
I also want to say that, if I can’t post sarcastic, on-topic, non-personal comments about dumb things politicians say here, I might be done too.
I know, don’t let the door hit me in the ass on the way out, right?
Just curious. Why more for Hardesty than anyone else?
Open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreements are the hallmarks of a democratic society.
Your comment above sort of re-ignited a comment I decided not put up when most recent article about Commissioner Hardesty because it felt like it would be made into something it wasn’t. But given your comment above, I think I should make it. Here it is: Have you (or some commenters here) thought that caring about a person’s identity more than their beliefs/actions/policies creates a blind spot?
The increased moderation on the BP comments section came after Tony Jordon pointed out a comment he felt was unfair to Comm. Hardesty. Other than a flippant sentence at the end, most would have seen the comment he (Tony) called out as a fair criticism of Comm. Hardesty. And as that discussion on whether the commenting was out of control continued, you mentioned your history with Eudaly. In that comment you said that you had, “…heard a ton of criticism about Eudaly for many months and I dismissed all of it because it felt sexist and I generally supported Eudaly’s policies”. Have you thought that might be what is happening here? Had Comm. Hardesty been a white man and had that same exchange, would you be making sure that ‘readers need to extra careful’? Honest criticism isn’t any other *-ism.
There seems to be the same pattern with Comm. Hardesty – she is unprepared, either in facts or in an emotional understanding of a subject, she gets a little pushback, she proceeds to push WAY back and in the process burying her foot tonsil deep in her mouth, then if there is intra- or post-blow-up criticism of the exchange, she (or others) argue it is racism at work, not a personal failing. We can’t know about everything and sometimes we have to rely others. This is especially true of a person in her position as a Commissioner. It may not be fair to blame her for not having every fact memorized about bike plans in Portland. But it is fair to criticize her for not asking for notes from staff to take with her before a meeting. (Or doing 10 min. of Googling.) And its fair to criticize her for her reaction to pushback. And if these failings are a pattern (which some would argue they are) then its definitely fair to criticize them.
What isn’t fair is to treat legitimate opinions the same as sexism, racism, etc. Its not right to decide whose voice should be amplified based on where their skin tone falls on the Benjamin Moore color strip palette. Racism (& sexism) are a caste system we built. You can’t dismantle that system by just “flipping the script” and doing a Newtonian opposite but equal approach.
Maybe its something you should ponder.
Umm yes. Absolutely. I think about this stuff all the freakin’ time man!
Not sure why it should come as a surprise for so many people that my moderation style is totally subjective and very discretionary. And yes, absolutely Commissioner Hardesty is treated differently by me (in terms of moderation) because she is a Black woman!
Race matters folks. And gender matters. And the tone and tenor of these comments matter. This is a very fine line to walk. I understand that. I will let through any comment with any opinion about Commissioner Hardesty through… But I will not tolerate folks who I feel are being too mean and unproductive. And yes, I have a lower threshold for what I will push through on posts about Hardesty than I would on posts about a white male elected official.
That is how I’ve always handled moderation. I protect subjects/sources that need it most. If you don’t like that, sorry. I hope you all continue to share your perspectives and understand that we are in this together and I am doing my best to provide a platform that offers diverse opinions but also one that maintains a modicum of respect and tact…. especially for the first Black woman to sit on our City Council.
Did you by chance ask Commissioner Hardesty if she wants protecting? My guess it would be a firm “no.”
Do you think Hardesty thinks she “needs the most protection”? Because that comment sounds completely condescending to me, and seems to encode more than a hint of white saviorism.
You think this because you are new here and you do not know me and have never met me and you are speculating (incorrectly) about my believes, values and motives. I do this same type of protection for every one of my news subjects/story sources. It’s just baked into how I approach this work. If I feel that someone in a story might be vulnerable/subject to harsh treatment, I have a lower threshold for comment moderation and I will watch things more closely.
I’m sorry. I do not claim to know your beliefs. I was just describing how your words sounded to me. Just above you said you do not offer the same level of protection to other subjects of your articles. You said you offer more to Hardesty then you would to a white male politician. And my reaction to that is that it sounds condescending, as if Commissioner Hardesty needs special assistance from you in this regard. I do not know if you really believe this.
I disagree with Commissioner Hardesty on many policy positions, but she has my full respect as a straight shooter and as someone who is as tough as they come. I don’t know her well, but I have met with her on several occasions, and I strongly suspect she would find your offer of help in this regard to be offensive.
Anyway, I feel that I’ve worn out my welcome for the moment. Ever since I first weighed in on your meta comment thread last week, you have been all over the place in terms of whether or not you moderate viewpoints, try to maintain neutrality (which is not the same as editorial independence, and is not the same as not having an opinion or human biases), and whether you treat the subjects of your articles the same. I am not saying that your policies are changing, only that you have not yet found a clear way to express them that I can understand. I don’t feel terribly comfortable participating in a forum that is run with what appears to me, an outsider who knows you only from what you write, to be opaque and arbitrary rules. I am not the only person who is saying this.
Over and out.
OK Watts. I hope you continue to enjoy our articles and perhaps we’ll see you in the comments section again in the future. Thanks.
“I do this same type of protection for every one of my news subjects/story sources”
Jonathan, But you just said in the post before that you treat Hardesty differently because she is a black woman. You keep saying your opinions are nuanced but I’m sorry to say this but it seem like more like your opinions are confused and/or conflicted.
Peace though brother. Take care. Over and out.
What JM said is that he assesses his own thinking about people differently depending on who they are. He did not say “I treat people differently because of who they are.” Imaginary straw men are still imaginary.
Wow, Jonathan your approach to moderation for POC seems very disrespectful (to POC) and some would say offensive.
Why wouldn’t you then tighten up your moderation on statements that you find too mean about anyone, not just women and marginalized folks? It would be much more defensible, and seems a fine standard. Unless there is actual sexist or racist content, stereotyping, whatever, I’m not sure you’re in a great position to identify what is sexist or racist, vs what is just criticism. Criticism on a racist/sexist basis is, of course, a real thing. But people of color and women can be bad at their jobs as much as anyone else. I’m not sure why you think your instincts (vs clear textual evidence, even if subtle) are the right way of identifying what’s what?
For example, on what basis did you think the criticism of Chloe Eudaly “felt sexist”? I am a big critic of Eudaly–first because she knows nothing about housing policy (an area I’m trained in), and second because I can’t stand her combative style. I have put a lot of thought into whether I would judge a white man the same way, and come to the resounding conclusion that I would. For example, combative style is something I particularly disdain in all politicians; I think it does more harm then good, even when you get short-term results, and it just generally turns me off. And so the idea that you might censor a lot of people having opions like mine because they *could* be sexist just…seems out of line. It’s your right of course, but I feel like it warps our little discourse here without solving any problems.
And finally, count me in the group of people who find the double standard condescending. And I say this as a woman–one who is very upfront about my opinions, and sometimes gets some strong pushback, especially online, some of it occaisionally pretty rude. I feel like the gratuitously rude stuff (and only that stuff) would ideally be moderated out, not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a person. I’ve read you enough to know how hard you think about this stuff, how much you care, and I know that you moderate the way you do with the best of intentions. For me though, the idea of comments towards me being treated with kid gloves because I need some kind of elevated female protection sets my teeth on edge and feels pretty white-knighty.
Thanks for these comments. I’m afraid – as is often the case with digital communication of complex topics – that folks are not fully understanding me.
This isn’t as simple as certain people being treated with “kid gloves” this is about me using my discretion to make sure the tone and tenor of what’s posted here are not too far into the dumps.
Read this thread. Read other threads on Commissioner Hardesty – and you will see plenty of criticism about her and her policies. Yes I have deleted some of them that I felt were not cool and that is a choice I will make with my own discretion because that is my job.
No system of comment moderation is perfect. I think the system I use – which relies almost exclusively on the instincts of someone who has done this professionally for 16 years and has a pretty good sense of priorities and values for this community – works pretty well.
And I absolutely know that people of color and women can be bad at their jobs. Why would feel the need to explain that to me? Do you think I give women/women of color a free pass. I urge you to step away from this comment thread and judge me on my work. See how I’ve covered these folks and the comments that have been left through.
As for why I felt some of the criticism I heard about Eudaly was sexist.. It was based on a gut feeling I had because I would hear similar complaints about her from very similar types of people. Same with Iannarone. Again, it has become extremely difficult for me to judge this type of thing given the heightened radar I have these days of racism, sexism, gender discrimination, and so on. Is it sexist, or just accurate? Can damage be done by posted accurate criticisms of someone how is often discriminated against due to their race/sexual orientation?
These are very complicated questions. It will continue to be something I struggle with.
In the meantime, let’s keep commenting and sharing our perspectives and I will continue to do my best to host the discussion and make sure a wide variety of perspectives are shared.
First thing, you’re totally right that you let criticisms through, including some of my own, and I saw plenty of criticsm of all of these people last fall in the leadup to the election. Totally a fair point. Nonetheless, you seem to be trying to say two contradictory things at once: that you’re not treating commentary about people with marginalized identities differently, and that you are. Can you comment on why you would apply a looser standard on what is “too mean” to a white male politician than to woman or person of color? (And I can’t judge your work by seeing only the comments you let through, I’d have to see the ones you’re spiking too).
As to your question, can damage be done by posted accurate criticism of someone who is often discriminated against due to their race/sexual orientation? All criticism can do damage, that’s separate from the question of what’s just or justified. Increased *scrutiny* of marginalized people DOES cause damage; it is unjust and common. Divining where that line is, though, is usually impossible to do, and moderating on that basis should be approached with extreme caution and a light touch for reasons I address in a bit.
But does publishing legitimate criticm cause undo damage to marginalized identities? I would encourage you to see if you can find a single person from a marginalized group who agrees with this. I suspect most would recoil and feel condescended to, as I do. The answer is a clear no, and begs the counter question:
1) Can damage be done by applying different standards to people based on their identity alone (outside of some very obvious, context-specific exceptions like accommodations for people with disabilities)? I think the answer is a clear yes. First, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for abuse, and for shortchanging society, particularly when we’re talking about the leaders of our city (ugh, just look at the horrific debacle at the Office of Public Life, the absolute nail in the Eudaly coffin, and vindication forever of everyone who has called Eudaly a callous and incompetent bully–an allegation that, mind you, has been lobbed, liberally, and often with justice, at countless white male politicians).
Second, and in the long run more problematically, it justifies the practice of making assumptions about people and treating them differently based on their identity characteristics. I don’t understand how every leftist alive (and to be clear, I definitely count myself as a far lefty) doesn’t see the red warning klaxxons on how bad this idea is, and how likely it is to ultimately *relegitimize* the very underpinnings of racism and sexism in the eyes of a whole lot of poeple in this country. This doesn’t mean identity characteristics can never be taken into account, that would be an extreme position, but it does mean it should only be done carefully, in limited ways and contexts, and not normalized as a part of public discourse.
And third, in your case here, it damages public discourse, and the trust your community here has in the site, and potentially in you–there is ample evidence here that you are losing the trust of some of your commenters. To the degree that marginalized people don’t feel comfortable contributing to a forum like this, that also damages the discourse, and I understand that balancing that is part of what you are trying to do. But I think when you start losing the trust of a lot of commenters, maybe the pendulum has swung too far.
One final note: “I trust my instincts” is a phrase that makes me very nervous, for resons related to my second point above. This is going to sound extreme, but people “trusting their instincts” about justice and right and wrong is the source of a steaming heaping pile of the injustice in the world–not to mention every good ol’ boys club that’s ever existed–because trusting your instincts is a version of not examining yourself for all of the cognitive biases that get us humans into so much trouble, and lead us to overlook our own errors and mistakes. To be clear, I am not saying you are a bastion of injustice, again, I’ve seen how seriously you take this and how much you want to get this right if you can. But I don’t think trusting instincts is a great thing to normalize when it comes to setting standars and making judgments, and is definitely not a good roadmap for creating clear guidance that your community here understands and feels okay with.
Good luck, I don’t envy you this task at all, except maybe for the daily opportunity it gives you to grapple with these issues. As you can see, I find them quite fascinating, and incredibly important.
“I am a big critic of Eudaly–first because she knows nothing about housing policy”
But she knows a hell of a lot about tenant rights which are always in opposition to the BAU “housing policy” that redlined, gentrified, excluded via zoning, and helped enshrine massive public subsidy of the mostly-white landlord-property class.
No, she doesn’t. She believes in tenant’s rights. So do I! But if you don’t understand any of it, you’re just as likely to make things worse when you try to make them better.
First off, thank you for the well-reasoned letter David. It sums up the frustration of being told people are advocating hard enough for X, when they are busy just living their lives with a huge dependency or impact of X but just don’t see it as something they are ‘passionate’ about.
I find this often used criticism of Commissioner Hardesty to run counter to my experiences working and listening to her. She generally is very prepared and knowledgeable about the topic at hand, however her knowledge and approach are often based in experiences and perspectives that are outside of MY experience and knowledge. So her ideas and problem solutions are NOT what the ‘status quo’ or ‘long-time experts’ would suggest because she does come to the table on a different path. Maybe, just maybe, it’s us who are unprepared to tackle things differently?
(Note: I put the blame of the BAC meeting strongly at the feet of PBOT – it says more about that agency and their priorities that they didn’t brief their new commissioner on the Bike Plans and supposed PBOT goals than it does about Hardesty’s approach to problem solving)
As a friend of a former director of the PBOT I can assure you PBOT staff fully briefed (or attempted to) the Commissioner on the agenda items for the BAC. It’s standard operating procedure at the bureau. She either chose not to listen or didn’t care enough to be briefed.
This is insane. Our city has such good bike infrastructure. Hardesty’s points were spot on and she demonstrates what actual leadership is. Relax everyone. Enjoy our bounty.
You must live and ride close to downtown. East of, say, 60th, things completely break down. The few off-street paths are now nearly impassible for all but the fearless due to camping and garbage, neighborhood secondary streets are disconnected and often full of speeding drivers, and commercial street routes are narrow and located next to very fast, thick traffic. There is so much more work needed in the parts of the city where the poorest residents live.
I totally agree with your comment, and I think that even close-in there are too many bike network gaps and the infrastructure isn’t nice/safe enough to draw hesitant cyclists (and for some reason PBOT’s bike lane designs are getting more and more confusing when navigating them on the ground). But what does that have to do with Hawthorne?
Part of my bike route literally requires me to ride on a narrow sidewalk. 99% of our “bike infrastructure” is either unprotected gutter lanes or unprotected “greenways”.
Our infrastructure would be considered good in 1999.
That was thoughtful and well written. I hope the commissioner will respond with similarly well thought out and considered remarks. Based on her comments at the BAC, it sounds like she may harbor some anti bicycle sentiments. Maybe some personal stories about people that actually use bicycles as modes of transportation will help to show her that they are not just toys or status symbols of privileged residents (which seems silly to write, considering the average cost of a bicycle compared to the cost of a motor vehicle). But I’m sure that’s what some people think when they think about bikes.
Very well written letter, thanks for taking the time to write it!
PBOT sets up situations all over town that place road users in conflict with each other. Cars allowed access to MUPs; half a block is closed for a outdoor dining, but the whole block is not made one-way for people driving; crosswalks are simply closed with a sign leaving peds with a long detour or navigating a sketchy crossing; bike lanes skinny down down to nothing or simply end; construction provides not detour for people biking or walking. Without some clear thinking/design/signs, people who encounter this situations just have to make split second decisions. This has lead me (and I presume others) into scary conflicts with other road users. A couple of times, I have had to cal the cops to help resolve these conflicts. Commissioner Hardesty is a vocal advocate of reducing police interactions, but she she does not appear to grasp the power she holds as the person in charge of PBOT. She could identify and implement priorities and policies that focus on safety and reducing conflicts in our street system that would keep everyone much safer and reduce calls for intervention by the police.
In the instances where you called, did the police resolve the situation? Were you pleased with the outcome?
3 out of 3, the police did not do anything to help.
1. I was getting tailgated and honked at by a couple on a greenway. I stopped and it turned into a shouting match. They called the cops and a neighbor called the cops, but they slipped away- I am pretty sure they were drunk. I stuck around to see if the cops would show up, never saw them. 2. Riding up Going MUP in November/December- dark/rainy evening. A car comes flying down the hill in the MUP. I swerve off into the mud. I called the cops but did not stick around. The assortment of cars using the greenway persist. 3. April. Sunday midday, walking the dog down the MUP on Going. Get tailed by a pickup truck. I have no where to go. I keep head checking to see if I need run/dive. Driver hops out, ask if I have a problem and threatens to run me over! I call the cops, but they say it will be 30 minutes or more. A cop did call me back but couldn’t find the truck.
Mostly if I am thrust into these conflicts, I can avoid conflict, but I fell fairly comfortable taking up the space I need and am legally allowed on the roads. However, Portland is setting our streets and MUPS up for more and more conflicts between citizens, and some of these conflicts will need some mediation or the potential for violence goes way up. I think it is better to use the tools we have to avoid the violence and the mediation and just reduce the conflict points. But that means being more thoughtful and intentional about design, construction management and maintenance.
Do the police ever resolve a conflict between cyclists and motorists? In almost zero instances that I’ve ever heard of. Last time I almost got road-raged in Beaverton, cops said they wouldn’t do anything unless they witnessed it or I actually got hit. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
We should have infrastructure that lead to fewer conflicts for cops to resolve in the first place.
Thank you for writing this, David.