Portland’s bike advisory committee will apologize to Commissioner Hardesty for conduct ‘endemic of systemic racism’

Posted by on July 14th, 2021 at 2:26 pm

“We want to apologize for our conduct at that meeting. It was unprofessional, endemic of systemic racism, and unacceptable. We will be holding ourselves accountable.”
— PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee letter

Two months after a heated meeting with Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, members of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee have penned an apology letter.

The meeting on May 11th was Hardesty’s first visit to the BAC since she was named PBOT Commissioner in December 2020. During a Q & A session following remarks to the committee, Hardesty, the first Black woman on Portland City Council, made some statements that left many veteran bike advocates shocked and frustrated. One BAC member, Clint Culpepper, become animated in his pushback against some of Hardesty’s comments — especially when she appeared to dismiss bike advocates’ demands because she doesn’t feel “the bike community” is an effective lobby group.

“I have one thing that I worry about every single day,” Culpepper said at one point during the exchange. “That my two small children are going to get hurt or killed on our roads. And I think that PBOT’s continued prioritization of building more room for automobiles is appalling. Pedestrian safety is the number one issue in the city and every single person in this room feels that it is being shortchanged at every opportunity. We have to fight for scraps out there, because PBOT has refused to prioritize safety first and foremost.”

“I hear your frustration Clint, but I certainly don’t agree with that,” Hardesty responded.

“Then why do we continue to have pedestrians die on our streets!?” Culpepper interjected loudly.

At their meeting last night, BAC members sought to make amends via a letter that puts an apology front-and-center.

“We want to apologize for our conduct at that meeting,” the opening paragraph of the draft letter reads. “It was unprofessional, endemic of systemic racism, and unacceptable. We will be holding ourselves accountable.”

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The BAC also promised Commissioner Hardesty that they will work harder to add Black and other people of color to their membership and/or elevate their voices more in the future.

In addition to the apology and acknowledgment that they lack diversity, the BAC sought to demonstrate support for Hardesty’s transportation platform (like carfree plazas and more automated enforcement) as well as counter some of Hardesty’s assertions made at the May meeting. While the letter acknowledges that bike lanes have, “typically been an indicator of gentrification and often represent spaces that are not inclusive of people for color,” the BAC took the opportunity to point out a national study that found new bike lanes did not result in the displacement of low-income or people of color.

One of the most surprising exchanges in the May meeting was when Commissioner Hardesty said she had never heard of the city’s bicycle master plan and that she doubts its main goal of 25% bicycle mode share by 2030 will be achieved. The BAC ended their letter by making a strong pitch for the bicycle plan:

“From outer east to North Portland, to Southwest and everywhere in between, we want all members of our community to be able to ride a bicycle (and walk and take transit) to get where they need to go affordably and on routes that are safe and comfortable to use. Combined with antiracist strategies the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 is the blueprint for making it happen and a critical element in achieving our shared goals to a safer, or equitable transportation system. We look forward to working together and implementing the plan, and new, innovative initiatives that make this vision for the future a reality in our city.”

Andre Miller, a community justice organizer who works for Commissioner Hardesty, attended last night’s BAC meeting. Once it’s finalized and sent, we’ll ask if he has a response.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Ricky
Guest
Ricky

I’m not on the BAC- they want to apologize, go ahead, especially if it leads to a more fruitful relationship with the commissioner and better bike infrastructure (not holding my breath). But the decision to apologize here says more about why people of color, and specifically black Portlanders, should be invited to join the BAC, then anything Culpepper was quoted as saying.

The specific apology to Hardesty is confusing from the outside because the quotes from Culpepper were not “endemic of systemic racism”. Bulldozing black neighborhoods to build freeways is endemic of systemic racism. Gentrification and displacement are endemic of systemic racism. It’s not characterized by a committee member yelling at a city councilperson for not sharing their priorities (even if their tone would have been different toward a white person) on bike lanes.

The kind of anti-racism work that is made up of token gestures to assuage feelings of personal guilt rather than to actually undue the SYSTEMS of racism is pretty much the definition of virtue signaling. I worry that too much of the former, and not enough of the latter just serves to obscure the real problems of racism we have in this city.

abomb
Guest
abomb

Maybe I’m a little dense but why did they have to apologize for a somewhat heated debate at a meeting? Isn’t that how political debate goes sometimes?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Amazing, Hardesty comes to the meeting completely unprepared, gaslights the BAC, and then the BAC apologizes to her.

It doesn’t bode well for safety infrastructure in Portland. If Hardesty can gaslight the AC members about how PBOT prioritizes safety and then they apologize so as to not appear racist and lose their progressive cred, it will just remove what little teeth it had in the first place.

Sorry folks, holding the leader of the transportation bureau accountable and pushing back when she attempts to gaslight is not systemic racism. Just absolutely absurd. Don’t go into elected politics if you don’t want to get push back.

I also want to point out, while bike lanes are a sign of gentrification (not a cause), thats only the situation because agencies like PBOT operate on a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” system that gives preference and access to a select few, usually folks with time and money.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

“We want to apologize for our conduct at that meeting…It was unprofessional, endemic of systemic racism, and unacceptable. We will be holding ourselves accountable.”

If you’ve never smeared a peer while simultaneously performing a group act of false contrition, you aren’t a member of the BAC.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

If you’ve never smeared a peer while ostensibly expressing collective contrition, you aren’t on the BAC.

Ellis
Guest
Ellis

Comment of the week!

Tim E
Guest
Tim E

I find myself looking up gaslighting all the time, because it’s consistently overused and often incorrectly. How did Hardesty use psychological means to make the BAC question their own sanity? By pointing out that getting to 25% bike commute share isn’t likely? is it gaslighting for me to say that the idea is nuts? Because it is. Data doesn’t show that Portland has any chance of reaching that level of bike commuting. It looks to me like the BAC gaslighted themselves.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Maybe it is because the BAC’s mission is to advise on Bike Projects to try to attain the goal the City has set and follow the plans the City has prepared, and Joann seemed to dismiss those goals as not worth pursuing and unimportant?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

You should go back and read the original article. Her admitting she didn’t know what the bike master plan is and her saying that PBOT wasn’t trying to achieve the 25% bike commute share are just about the only things she said that weren’t gaslighting.

Data doesn’t show that Portland has any chance of reaching that level of bike commuting

You generally don’t meet goals you aren’t trying to achieve.

soren
Guest
soren

Let’s take a little look at the actual meat of Clint’s heated exchange with Comm. Hardesty:

1. Clint claimed that:

“In East Portland we have more folks riding bicycles than we do in other places…the census data bears this out.”

This is patently false. East Portland census areas have some of the lowest cycling mode share in the Portland area.

2. Clint claimed that:

“the majority of bicycle riders folks that use bicycles for transportation in the city are making less money than everybody else in the city.”

ACS 2019 for OR:
0.8% bike mode share for people with income less than $20.000
1.3% bike mode share for people with income greater than $100,000
https://usa.abacus.ipums.org/#/tabulator/

Low income people in OR (and by extension Portland) tended to bike more than the average wealthy person a decade ago but in recent years the demographics of cycling for transportation have sharply reversed as can be seen in the IPUMS tabulator. And don’t @ me about the data because Clint’s claims were based on the very same data.

3.

“Then why do we continue to have pedestrians die on our streets!?” Culpepper interjected loudly.”

Hardesty has been a steadfast champion of pedestrian safety her entire career. It’s absurd for BAC members who have poo pooed the enormous pedestrian safety improvements on Hawthorne (10 new enhanced crosswalks in a ~27 block area!) to suddenly claim to have the moral high ground when it comes to pedestrian safety.

4.

“People aren’t just dying in east Portland, they are dying in north Portland, they are dying in northeast Portland they are dying in southeast Portland, they are dying in every part of this city!”

This is one the few statements that Clint made that is factually correct. I do understand why Hardesty was focused on East Portland given that a plurality of vulnerable road users have been killed by cage drivers E of 82nd.

5.

“The exchange ended Culpepper and Hardesty in sharp disagreement about whether or not the Hawthorne Pave & Paint project will result in safer conditions for pedestrians (Culpepper thinks the wider lanes prove his point that PBOT prioritizes motorized vehicles over people, Hardesty says the project will have major safety benefits for people on foot”

It’s very depressing that BAC members are publicly dismissing the proven effectiveness of median-island crosswalks and 4–>2+1 lane reductions. I’d like to see Clint make these arguments to members of PBOT’s PAC or to Oregon Walks staff.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

I don’t really see the point in relitigating Clints comments with you. You can reference the conversations you had in the previous article in the previous article. Relying on census data on work commute to determine how much people are biking is not useful in the first place.

The issue is that Hardesty came to the meeting unprepared, was dismissive, and stated the outright lie that PBOT prioritizes safety in their planning.

I’m completely indifferent to whether or not PBOT throws some paint-and-pray bike lanes on Hawthorne. The bigger issue is how willing PBOT is to lie about equity and safety impacts of their projects to justify their motorist first planning. PBOTs repave is not going to make Hawthorne safer just like most of their “safety projects” have failed to make the city safer for cyclist, motorist, or pedestrians. It will make the road faster. Clint is correct and the data shows that wider roads mean faster roads. Hardesty and PBOT lying doesn’t change that.

Hardesty, with a straight face, saying that PBOT prioritizes anyone’s safety is nonsense. PBOT has and will continue to prioritize speed and access for motorist above all. Much like PPB, we can’t expect PBOT to do a better job when they wont admit they have a problem in the first place.

soren
Guest
soren

Hardesty, with a straight face, saying that PBOT prioritizes anyone’s safety is nonsense.

I prefer to quote what Hardesty actually said:

my priority is slowing down cars and getting [fixed speed and red light] cameras out. My priority can’t be bike lanes when people are dying on the streets because cars are going too fast.”

Because we are trying to address a lack of infrastructure improvements that have been there since annexation [a reference to east Portland which was annexed into the city in the 1980s].

“…because people are dying does not mean that the bureau is not prioritizing safety. It means that it can only do so much with the budget that it has… Have we done enough? We don’t have enough resources to do enough.

FWIW, I publicly challenged Novick and Vision Zero Task force members about the lack of dedicated funding in 2015. Bob Stacey shushed me by claiming that Novick is on our side and just look where we are now.

Apart from the defensiveness over PBOT’s safety focus, I agree with Hardesty that the pathetic underfunding of vision zero is the biggest barrier. I also agree with the other points Hardesty made.

Just because someone disagrees with your transportation politics does not mean they are gaslighting you.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

my priority is slowing down cars and getting [fixed speed and red light] cameras out. My priority can’t be bike lanes when people are dying on the streets because cars are going too fast.”

So lets make the lanes wider on Hawthorne! Her priority might be slowing down cars, but PBOT does not have that priority, and it shows in the lies they tell about projects like the Hawthorne expansion.

“…because people are dying does not mean that the bureau is not prioritizing safety. It means that it can only do so much with the budget that it has… Have we done enough? We don’t have enough resources to do enough.”

The biggest lie of them all. PBOT “doesn’t have the resources” for two reasons

1. They prioritize spending money on improving speeds for motorists on roads.

2. This is the only one that really matters: PBOT routinely passes on common sense, cheap infrastructure improvements because it will adversely impact motorists. PBOT and Hardesty by extension want to live in a fantasy world where cars can travel unencumbered and fast and have those same streets magically be safe for pedestrians and cyclists. PBOT, as an agency, is unwilling to take easy wins because easy wins for pedestrians and cyclist usually come at the cost of slowing down motorist.

Hell, even when a project gets funded, PBOT will downgrade the infrastructure if homeowners ask them to. They downgraded the bike lanes on N Denver so property owners wouldn’t have to walk an extra 3 feet to put out their trash bins once a week.

Apart from the defensiveness over PBOT’s safety focus, I agree with Hardesty that the pathetic underfunding of vision zero is the biggest barrier. I also agree with the other points Hardesty made.

Her defensiveness over PBOTs safety focus is the entire problem. The gaslighting comes when she says with a straight face that PBOT is doing all that it can and that PBOT prioritizes safety. Neither of those things are true, hence the gaslighting.

Just because someone disagrees with your transportation politics does not mean they are gaslighting you.

Who said Hardesty disagrees with my transportation politics?

soren
Guest
soren

“and the data shows that wider roads mean faster roads”

I guess you missed Falkor’s comment on a previous comment thread:

This is simply a myth, that wider lanes lead to higher speeds on a street with only one lane in each direction. The research on lane width says wider lanes lead to higher speeds only on multi-lane roads, in other words when you have passing lanes. If there’s only one lane in each direction, it’s not an issue.

NCHRP 783 and The Green Book are cited on the bottom of page 11 of the Protected Bike Lane Design Guide and seem to indicate little difference in safety/speed from 10 to 12 feet width of lane.

https://bikeportland.org/2018/06/26/heres-how-we-build-it-pbot-releases-draft-version-of-protected-bike-lane-design-guide-284675

Falkor’s comment with context:
https://bikeportland.org/2021/06/11/heres-what-hawthorne-will-look-like-after-pbots-pave-and-paint-333640#comment-7422066

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Did you read the text you quoted?

If there’s only one lane in each direction, it’s not an issue.

Is Hawthorne going to be one lane in each direction? Or is it going to have more than one lane in each direction?

Regardless, to say that it’s a myth is nonsense. A reading of the literature shows that there is mixed data.

“There is no consensus in the literature on the relationship between lane width and speed. Some
studies have shown speed reductions of as much as 3 mph for every foot of lane narrowing; other
studies show a more slight speed reduction of about 1 mph per foot of lane narrowing or no
significant effect at all. The studies generally agree that there is wide variability between sites,
suggesting that lane width alone is not responsible for the entire speed reduction.”

https://nacto.org/docs/usdg/review_lane_width_and_speed_parsons.pdf

It certainly doesn’t hurt does it? It doesn’t increase collisions and at worst doesn’t reduce speed but at best could reduce speed up to 6 mph for a two reduction.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Plus, there is always the issue of cyclists and pedestrians fighting over the crumbs that are left over after the motorist’s portion is allocated. Personally, in many instances I feel that hardscape curb extensions serve to prevent inclusion of better infrastructure for cyclists and also to preserve curb-side parking, are relatively expensive to both install and remove, and are an inherent hazard to cyclists, especially in low visibility conditions.

soren
Guest
soren

PBOT knows that it is possible to build curb extensions that are compatible with bike lanes so the choice to install infrastructure that makes installation of a (future) bike lane cost prohibitive was intentional.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I understand the BAC wants to stay on the good side of Commissioner Hardesty; this is only smart. However, I think they’ve totally misread the Commissioner and the situation. The letter that the BAC is sending has a tone of utter obsequiousness, but, unlike certain past PBOT commissioners, I don’t think Hardesty wants people to kiss the ring, and I don’t think she will respond well to this approach.

I think Hardesty respects well-reasoned policy positions, and I think the BAC’s letter would have been stronger and better received if they had stuck to that.

This is especially true given that the committee didn’t do anything that required an apology.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I remember attending that particular meeting (via Zoom of course). What Clint said and how he said it was a bit unprofessional and even cringe-worthy, but far more troubling was how not only did most other BAC members completely agree with him, but even more importantly how terribly under-prepared all the BAC members were for that meeting, both individually and as a group. It’s partly their collective fault for not being prepared but also PBOT staff’s fault for not helping them prepare better for the meeting. The BAC has no social cohesion nor do they seem to have any unified purpose or mission, which is fine if they just want to periodically advise PBOT staff members and rubber-stamp everything; but it isn’t very useful if they are trying to actually effect change in the community. What Joan saw was a bunch of predominantly white individuals serving on a city-funded lobbying group who were completely ineffective in lobby her on city time, using city resources – they acted dumb (most never spoke), most who spoke were not passionate, and the one passionate person was Clint. If anything, she probably has a higher opinion of Clint than the rest.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I didn’t attend the meeting. But… the *BAC* was unprepared for the meeting?? Hardesty had never heard of the Bike Master Plan.

And… doesn’t PBOT choose the BAC members? Why is it the committee’s responsibility to be cohesive, effective, or diverse if they don’t even choose their members?

soren
Guest
soren

Why would anyone want to sit on an almost entirely white transportation committee in this era?

The position that BAC members have no agency to address the racist and classist composition of their own committee is nonsense.

I’m not surprised that Hardesty had never heard of the 2030 Bike Plan because its massive failure is a huge embarrassment to PBOT. Hardesty is a straight talker and I’m also not surprised that she immediately called BS on the belief that 25% mode share is possible by 2030.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

I’m reminded of my favorite comedian, Bill Hicks, and his line about Catholic priests:

“Women want to be Catholic priests, how about that? Doesn’t matter to me. Hell, have one with six balls and eight titties. That’s a service I might go to!”

Same for the BAC. Fill it with Black Portlanders to give it some legitimacy. It will still be a powerless rubber stamp of the status quo. Because important decisions are controlled from above. By guys like Bob Van Brocklin.

Somewhere, him and his buddies are sitting in an air-conditioned high-rise office in downtown Portland laughing about how easily distracted and divided the plebes are. I know because I was once in that office too.

The BAC and it’s members, regardless of any demographic traits or life experiences, can be united in knowing that they are all “useful idiots” (political term of art, not a personal insult).

https://youtu.be/SWQE3NBAI3c

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Hardesty is a straight talker and I’m also not surprised that she immediately called BS on the belief that 25% mode share is possible by 2030.

Straight talker? She gaslit the BAC about how PBOT prioritizes safety when they are planning. Don’t confuse ‘straight talk’ with ‘not caring’.

Tim E
Guest
Tim E

She didn’t gaslight anyone. Stop using that term, it has lost its meaning at this point.

soren
Guest
soren

It’s darkly comical that some cycling enthusiasts believe Commissioner Hardesty nefariously planned to “gaslight” a committee with the political power of a deflated inner tube.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Yeah, that’s the way it works. They thank you for your “important service” to the community, tell you all the great things that will happen, then do whatever they want. It’s a big game, all for the pretense of community involvement and democratic decision making. You have to be pretty naive to not see it or think it comical. But it sure is dark.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

My understanding is that people apply to be on the committee, then PBOT chooses some of them and puts them on the committee. Presumably once one went to the first meeting and realized the committee was almost all-white one could resign in protest, and there’s certainly potential agency there. But shouldn’t the primary fault be found with PBOT for choosing an almost all-white committee in the first place?

And regardless – I just think that expecting a committee *chosen by a government agency* to be an effective lobbying force is overly optimistic. The agency has an incentive to choose people who won’t rock the boat.

I think advocates in Portland should mostly ignore the BAC itself, and look to other ways and methods for actually changing politics and policy. The information presented by PBOT staff in the meetings may be helpful sometimes, but I just don’t see the committee members as being very likely to impact policy in a large way, due to being chosen by PBOT.

Tim E
Guest
Tim E

It’s the BAC’s job to get the information to Hardesty themselves if they want her to prioritize it. This is a person who has to do a lot of crap. If the BAC wants action, they need to be proactive.

soren
Guest
soren

“What Clint said and how he said it was a bit unprofessional and even cringe-worthy”

Also cringe-worthy because Clint’s “facts” about East Portland bike mode share and the prevalence of low-income cycling were flat out wrong.

“but even more importantly how terribly under-prepared all the BAC members were for that meeting, both individually and as a group.”

Given that one of the primary roles of the BAC is to rubber stamp PBOT’s active mode share failures it’s no surprise they were woefully unprepared for the opportunity to directly lobby the most powerful member of the city council.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

“We want to apologize for our conduct at that meeting…It was unprofessional, endemic of systemic racism, and unacceptable.”

Did Clint Culpepper himself in a way that was “endemic of racism,” Soren? If you were on the BAC, would you sign your name to this damning claim?

soren
Guest
soren

First of all, I’d never agree to serve on the BAC. Secondly, none of my comments here addressed the letter and I know very little about the context of this letter so I choose not to comment.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

Sure, you have better things to do, like comment on this story 11 times.

You know enough about Clint Culpepper’s comments to echo claims that they were “cringe-worthy.”

Were Culpepper’s comments “endemic of systemic racism,” too?

You won’t say, and that’s cringe-worthy. Not just because someone is being smeared, but also because a crowd is cavalierly squeezing the air out of what should be a serious charge.

David Binnig
Subscriber

This was close to my reaction as well: civility is good and it’s worth apologizing for intemperate speech, but Hardesty strikes me as a fairly no-nonsense person who’s not necessarily impressed by heavily-workshopped self-abasement.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

It is not clear from the article what happened at the meeting (Or elsewhere?) that was “ endemic of systemic racism.” Please explain.

PTB
Guest
PTB

Same. I’m struggling to understand the issue. If the issue is that Clint is a white guy and Hardesty is a black woman and that’s all…so what? Unprofessional? Sure, ok. Unacceptable? I dunno, there’s a lot about how the city operates that can understandably rile anyone up. Endemic of systemic racism? Whuu?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

It has almost nothing to do with Hardesty being black, but it does have a lot to do with that she has so much more power than the BAC (and possibly a lot more wisdom), and that the BAC didn’t do their homework to find out what the new commissioners knows and doesn’t know about her new bureau before having a conversation with her. Clint being white and male is also pretty irrelevant – he was passionate, which is always a plus when talking with politicians – but like the rest of the BAC, he was also condescending, which a definite minus.

If the purpose of the BAC is to help PBOT get the BMP implemented and to get overall citywide bike ride-to-work rates to rise, why is the BAC predominantly made up of white bicyclists who either work downtown or live close into downtown? Why is it made up of “converts” to the religion and not the people you want to be converted? Wouldn’t you want a BAC made up of the whole community, from every district, every BIPOC community, every mode, of people who can and do influence others? Isn’t that the whole point of a lobbying group like the BAC?

Right now the BAC is made up of experts who are qualified to advise PBOT staff, should PBOT staff want to be advised (and sometimes they do.) But the current BAC is incredibly ineffective at lobbying – totally incompetent, very naive, badly advised by PBOT staff, totally unreflective of the community they are supposed to represent, and poorly connected to people of power. And Hardesty exposed that.

Jim Syar
Guest
Jim Syar

I agree with this completely. We don’t need experts who are qualified to advise PBOT staff, we need more inclusion of unrepresented persons who have been marginalized by white ‘experts’. Knowing things is overrated. If you have Brown or Black skin, or are a LGBTQ+, then you have special insight and feelings about things that white “experts” can never get. Hardesty is on to something here. Knowing things, like facts and engineering is completely irrelevant.

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

Poe’s law in action here. Legitimately cannot tell if this is a sincere comment or a troll. Leaning towards troll…but you never know.

setha
Subscriber
setha

I detect sarcasm.

Jim Syar
Guest
Jim Syar

Your purposeful ignorance of the situation shows your racism and white privilege. Commissioner Hardesty is a Black Womxn. Her status is superior to that of any ‘white guy’, because she has lived experience as an oppressed group. Therefore, her views take precedence over those of a white man. I can’t believe the emotional work it takes to educate you white people. Talk about white privilege. Jeesh…

Ellis
Guest
Ellis

Jim,
Please tell me this is sarcasm.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

The real tragedy is that it has gotten difficult to tell.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The systemic racism has more to do with the existence of the board by ordinance (the BAC functions as a board or city commission even though it’s called a committee) – an ordinance passed by an all-white city council; that the membership is currently and has historically been all or predominantly white – accidentally or otherwise; that almost the only people available to meet on Tuesday evenings in the Lovejoy Room location (pre-Covid) are either retired, students, or paid staff of downtown nonprofits – again nearly always white and over-represented by downtown interests; and that PBOT’s staff (a white person by the name of Roger Geller) have made little successful effort to build a BAC that proportionately represents BIPOC communities and neighborhoods in spite of constant pressure to do so for over 20 years. Basically the same groups and organizations that were on the original BAC from way back when are still on it, even though their personnel have changed, and the groups excluded back then are still being excluded, as are new ones. The BAC, like the Freight Committee, is a fossil that really needs to be gutted.

IMO, to fix the BAC and the BMP, the meeting location needs to be moved out of downtown permanently. The time/day should be on Saturdays, maybe around 10 am, with catered lunches, child care, and live language interpretation like EPAP (another city group) currently does. The 21 2021 BAC members should be: 1 person each from the 7 district coalitions (7 total); 1 representative each from a citywide bicycle coalition, APANO, NAACP, EPAP, a Litinx community group or church, a Slavic community group or church, a recent immigrant or refugee (7 total); 1 each: an outside engineer, somebody from BES, another person from Multnomah County, somebody from the City of Gresham, a Trimet employee, a Metro rep, and a PBOT employee (7 total).

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

The systemic racism has more to do with the existence of the board by ordinance

Is that what they are saying or is that what you are saying? Your post reads just as a critique of the BAC, a critique I mostly agree with, but not really explanative of what specifically in that meeting was endemic of systemic racism. Is the implication that the BAC isn’t diverse enough to pushback against gaslighting?

I don’t believe the BAC should exist in the first place, but I do agree that it’s entire structure is bad. I just fail to see how Hardesty coming unprepared and then gaslighting the group is the fault of the structure of the BAC.

At the end of the day, this advisory committee system is how PBOT (and unfortunately many Oregonian governments) have chosen to meet their outreach goals. The advisory committees, just like the neighborhood associations are by their nature exclusionary. I’ve staffed, sat on, and attended as a member of the public, many advisory committees and community work groups and I’ve never seen one that was actually reflective of the community. In fact, to increase diversity they generally do what you suggested, go to the usual suspects at the usual community groups. You get someone who sits on a couple of ACs and call it representative of a community.

At the end of the day, most people want the same thing. Safe ways to travel. PBOT has tons of people who are paid to have the knowledge to create safe traveling conditions. The BAC is useless because PBOT knows what good bike infrastructure looks like, they just don’t want to build it, and the BAC doesn’t have the political capital to make them build good infrastructure like the freight group does.

ACs, including the BAC, are always performative and always useless.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I’ve been on a few ACs that were effective for at least a season or two, sometimes 3, but the so few exceptions more or less prove what you say, that most are performative and useless, a total waste of time, great only for padding resumes and keeping useless city employees out of trouble. An AC is only as good as the majority of members try to make it, and only then when they have the open cooperation of qualified city staff.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Based on conversations following the Hardesty meeting, I believe that phrase came from committee member and former mayoral candidate Sarah Iannerone. Perhaps that is adequate explanation.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

It is not. I have read hundreds of words posted in response to my comment, and if anything I’m now more confused. I’m being serious here. If anyone cares to give it another try, I would appreciate it.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

How will they “be holding (them)selves accountable?” Is Clint getting kicked off the committee?

EP
Guest
EP

So…is it racist to want bike lanes?

Ellis
Guest
Ellis

In Portland yes.

Champs
Guest
Champs

There have been plenty of occasions to describe certain criticisms of city leaders who are women/POC sexist or racist but this ain’t it.

BAC challenged a city commissioner to do her job. If she doesn’t have the policy and administrative chops to run the transportation bureau, then she should apologize to them and pledge to do better. If kissing the ring is the first step to that end, then I guess that’s good, and we will see whether she’s pragmatic or dogmatic.

Dardanelles
Guest
Dardanelles

This sentence doesn’t read right to me. Is there a negative missing from the second half?

“While the letter acknowledges that bike lanes have, “typically been an indicator of gentrification and often represent spaces that are not inclusive of people for color,” the BAC took the opportunity to point out a national study that found new bike lanes did result in the displacement of low-income or people of color.”

AndWhereAreTheAntelopes
Guest
AndWhereAreTheAntelopes

The greatest mistake he made was forgetting that we must now relate to people entirely based upon their skin color. That is also how we judge how well they do their jobs. Is the commissioner a member of an ethnicity that has historically suffered oppression? Then they are doing a great job, whatever they are doing. Apologizing for his fragility would have been the first step. Then praising her many accomplishments, for which she now has earned a one-month summer vacation, would have been a good next step.
But how to we deal with the real problem, which is gentrification?
My Boise neighbors of color who sold their houses on the open market over the past twenty years (sometimes because they had the misfortune of inheriting a grandparents house, sometimes because they had the audacity to believe they had the right to move their kids to a neighborhood free of gangs and with better quality schools) are quickly realizing the great injustice of allowing black people to sell their houses with the same freedom as white people ***portion deleted***. As soon as we can sort this out, return those houses to the black folks who sold them, force them to live in the same houses (and where multiple children inherited a house, they will just have to squeeze multiple families in each house, very sorry) the neighborhood will be 100% black again, and it will be a paradise. Once we have confirmed the neighborhood is 100% racially pure, we will erase the evil bike lanes and maximize the racial justice engendered by automobile use.

joan
Guest
joan

I get that this is supposed to be sarcasm, but the line about “allowing black people to leave the ghetto” is just super gross. Ironic racism is just … racism. Mimicking the language of white supremacy is expressing the language of white supremacy. This sort of pretend-humorous racism and commentary is perpetuating racial animosity towards Hardesty and others. I’d encourage folks to read about what’s been called “hipster racism” before they think that living in a historically Black neighborhood (“Some of my best friends are Black”) means they get to say garbage like this.

Really I just don’t think these kinds of comments should be published.

AndWhereAreTheAntelopes
Guest
AndWhereAreTheAntelopes

I would encourage folks to avoid weaponized and largely unhelpful words like “gentrification” when talking about transportation policy….or race issues. North Portland is full of longtime resident black and white folks who kept their houses and became land-wealthy by doing so, folks who sold (as they were my neighbors I was told by several they did so to get their kids away from the gangs, and to better schools in eg. Vancouver WA; other houses sold because an older person died and the family put the house on the market. There are a dozen other reasons why people move, right?) and that decision no doubt affected their economics down the road, but so does every decision.
The housing market follows the laws of supply and demand. The supply is finite. Demand goes up when inner city living (and yes, bicyclists like to be close to work for obvious reasons) becomes popular, and when a neighborhood because less full of gun crime and garbage (I assume you’ve lived in Portland long enough to remember when N Portland was violence-ridden, garbage filled……and very affordable). If you paint your house, keep your yard weeded, you gentrify it. If you plant a wrecked car in the backyard, fire off a gun, etc, you are certainly “fighting gentrification” pretty effectively. By the same token, putting in bike lanes “gentrifies” a place. Well, so I hope you can see the point I am trying to make about how tricky a word it is. I apologize for the long boring screed. The other attempt was an attempt at humor, and I think I like it better.
I certainly didn’t mean to upset you…..but I did mean to poke a bit. That’s what sarcasm is. Until recently, it was not forbidden. I await judgement.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

This makes far too much sense to get any traction in an American political discussion. I remember the day we moved into our house in Overlook, that evening a young Black man was shot dead in the middle of Albina, gang-related. We were a little freaked, but I come from the Deep South, where that sort of thing is more common. Some people gentrify Portland just by seeking a job in a better place.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

Throwing fellow member Clint Culpepper under the speeding SUV for standing up to the leader of PBOT on behalf of Portland cyclists is a loathsome and cowardly act.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Not every group is going to fully inclusive, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a voice. If they were excluding people of color I would understand, but if POC don’t want to be involved, then is forcing them to any better than excluding them. I am a cyclist and know few POC who participate in the sport, therefor their representation will naturally be very low. I recently had a Black friend tell me that Black people don’t drink IPA’s. Now I’m sure that isn’t entirely true, but if it is the case, then does that mean that breweries are not being inclusive if they choose to brew or serve IPA’s?

BadgerFan
Guest
BadgerFan

Before you believe that a person of color doesn’t want to participate, I encourage you to think if the majority has created a welcoming space for all people of color to want to participate. Have you ever been in a setting where you feel like you are talking to a brick wall? Where no one is taking the time to understand you? That is likely the perception that people of color have with the BAC. To my point, the space that they made for the Commissioner was hostile, uncaring, and unappreciative of her experience and her knowledge as a 30 year Portland resident of color. I’m sure many people of color read and listened to that session and thought this group still doesn’t get it.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Have you ever been in a setting where you feel like you are talking to a brick wall? Where no one is taking the time to understand you? That is likely the perception that people of color have with the BAC.

This is also the feeling of white people serving on the BAC. The problem isn’t racial; it’s that PBOT really doesn’t care what they have to say.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

The Portland BAC may want to check this recently released research on the question of ‘bikeways and gentrification’…for future public discussions on this heated topic:
“Bicycling facility inequalities and the causality dilemma with socioeconomic/sociodemographic change” by Ferenchak et al. 2021 August
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1361920921002194

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Well SED!

“Our results suggest inequalities in bike facility distribution outside of downtown areas. While lower-income White neighborhoods – where we might expect lower vehicle ownership and higher want or need of access to safe and comfortable active transportation facilities – had high levels of bike facilities installed, POC areas had the lowest rates of overall installation. “

James Syar
Guest
James Syar

I’m appalled and shocked by the racist actions of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee. All of you should be ashamed, publicly humiliated, and stripped of all of your positions for your institutional racism. You racists are a detestable group. I am particularly flabbergasted by the admitted racist views and participation in institutional racism of Board members Sarah Iannarone, and Alexandra Zimmermann and David Stein. An apology letter is not sufficient for your participation and creation of institutional racism in Portland. All of you should resign immediately and be banned from twitter for your continued support of institutional racism.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

We get it, James. Three comments saying the same thing is probably enough.

M. Haines
Guest
M. Haines

Jonathan,
Given your past history of stating you need to “protect” Hardesty from criticism I think you will be censoring a lot of comments on this post. Oh well, it’s already clear to me she is not a friend of cyclists.

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

This is performative, absurd, and disheartening. I expect Hardesty will see straight through it. And unfortunately it will probably only strengthen the stereotype she has of bikers as very online progressive yuppies with too much time on their hands. I don’t know, maybe that’s not too far off.

Systemic racism is real, it’s a real problem…but this is not it. You can do better BAC.

By the way Jonathan, thanks for your excellent reporting on this issue. I have no idea whether or how much you agree with me, which I appreciate. Especially for thorny issues like this.

Holden
Guest
Holden

BAC perhaps needing more diversity is a completely different issue from Hardesty being ignorant and woefully unprepared.

This is just pathetic and strange. I can no longer support Hardesty in any capacity if this is what comes from her leadership. Sure, Wheeler should have assigned Mapps to PBOT, but Hardesty could resign or actually try to do a good job.

buildwithjoe
Member

I volunteered for Hardesty so many weekends going door to door. I feel Hardesty is wrong on her statements. I have examples. PBOT has put their priority into smoother roads rather than safety. PBOT paved 2 side streets at the cost of 500k near my house. Bryant Street West of Greely and also Holland West of Greely. Totally useless. I think someone at PBOT with decision powers lives near me. PBOT also repaved SE Ladd Ave when it did not need repaving. If someone gave me control of the PBOT budget I could bring us to vision zero in 2 years.

Where is the full recording of the meeting? I was there in zoom. I’d like to know what words were unprofessional.

I think my post here is polite. But a lot of people consider things unprofessional and I’d like to know exactly what words they mean in regards to being not professional.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Criticizing Hardesty isn’t racist — there’s plenty not to like. To pretend otherwise is perpetuating the tokenism that PDX likes to pass for progress.

On the other hand, the outright dismissals of some of her positions are elitism at best. Bike advocacy is associated with gentrification for good reasons — at least one of which is the loudest voices seem fixated on improving short hops on super easy roads for people wwhile ignoring what cycling would really mean for most people.

Here’s the rub. Most bike and transpo activists get to choose what they do. That’s not how it is for normal people. They don’t aspire to ride a bike or a bus because they’ve been forced to do it for years and want something better. They’ve put in their time and their idea of emancipation isn’t about spending all day on a bus or in goofy neighborhood festivals celebrating how no one needs to get anywhere. May as well try to convince homeless people that sleeping outside is awesome.

Every time I’m here, why does it so much remind me of this?

soren
Guest
soren

I unironically nominate this as comment of the week.

PS: I volunteered for Hardesty’s campaign but there are plenty of decisions she has made that I strongly disagree with. The idea that politics should be monolithic is one of the reasons there is so little social cohesion and so much “divide and conquer” infighting.

Eduardo Grant
Guest
Eduardo Grant

The BAC’s apology is precisely the sort of obsequiousness you get from supplicants approaching any politician with power who is unafraid to use that power in a retaliatory way. The apology abases the group, offers the requisite plaudits to the politician, recites elements of the politician’s platform, lets the politician off the hook for her/his own failings, and offers up a sacrifice in the hopes of currying favor with the politician. One can imagine just such a letter being written hundreds of times to Trump.

The problem, of course, is that the apology enables the politician’s worst tendencies.

Tim E
Guest
Tim E

Well, considering that PBOT has been creating road diets and continuing to add to bike infrastructure, as the rate of bike commuting has dropped in the last seven years, how exactly does anyone imagine that bike commutes could possibly reach 25%. Especially now that a heck of a lot people are going to work from home. Whoever thought that Portland could hit 25% pretty much ever has their head in the clouds.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

There was a nice period in the late 2000s when bike modeshare was increasing a couple percentage points a year. Those who only looked at the graph and assumed the slope will remain constant might have thought we’d have hit 25% by now, let alone 2030.

Of course, as we all know, modeshare has been flat for ten years now. A lot of things would have to happen for any sizable city to get to 25%. None of which have actually happened.

soren
Guest
soren

…as we all know, modeshare has been flat for ten years now.

Portland has seen a 29% drop in cycling mode share (Census ACS) from a high of 7.3% in 2014 to a low of 5.2% in 2019. The 5.2% mode share in 2019 is the lowest mode share print in 12 years.

comment image

PBOT’s bicycle count data shows a similar but larger drop in normalized bike trips up to the 2018 count — the last bike count data published by PBOT.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The graph above shows the “mean” estimated share of workers commuting by bike of the top 5 cities in Portland’s population class (500,000-million); the vast majority of other cities in that range are less than 0.5%, while Portland is still #1.

One of the many issues with the ACS is a steady drop in people willing to respond to the survey at all, both locally and nationwide, and so the “+/- error” rate has been steadily rising. If you take the extremes in errors year by year, Portland either has rapidly dropping rates (at one extreme), or the changes per year are nearly nil, that is the curve is flat (at the other extreme) just based on errors of significance.

(My apologies if I’m expressing this badly – it’s been like 10+ years since I last took a stats course.)

soren
Guest
soren

The margin of errors between 2019 and 2014 or 2015 don’t overlap so this suggests significance.

Watts
Guest
Watts

25% was always a fantasy, but it is particularly irksome that PBOT isn’t even paying lip service to the goal, even as they claim to champion equity and a lower emissions future (which, ironically, seems to result in more car-oriented infrastructure).

PBOT’s withdrawal from cycling predates Hardesty, but she is accelerating the process.

NE Portlander
Guest
NE Portlander

This city is absolutely nuts.

Richard
Guest
Richard

This is simultaneously racist (infantilizing and coddling someone—who deserves to be treated equally—because of her skin color) and dangerous (selectively relinquishing the responsibility to hold those with power to account for fear of appearing “racist.”). Hardesty, BTW, is completely blameless in this and, in her own words (for what they’re worth to people seeking to erase them), can handle the heated feedback now being recast as racism.

Mark Blanchard
Guest
Mark Blanchard

Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee Has no reason to apologize. These are tax paid councilmembers that should have a complete understanding of the situation they are in charge of and should be supporting the request a Portlanders.

John
Guest
John

Well, so much for BAC’s hope of applying any leverage to PBOT future decisions. Having now branded itself as a systemically racist and unprofessional group, it will now be sidelined or relegated to head-nodding on every sticky issue. After all, the BAC can’t actually add diversity to its ranks, since it doesn’t appoint its own members, and it will be easy for BAC opposition to the bureau or commissioner’s proposals to be cast as unprofessionalism (if that’s a word).