Podcast: Veteran Advocate and New Portlander Cathy Tuttle

For this episode, I caught up with veteran advocate and recent Portland transplant Cathy Tuttle (@CathyTuttle). When I heard she moved here from Seattle last year I was really excited. It was like the Trail Blazers signing an all-star.

“It’s going to take a whole village of people who already bike to actually raise up a whole city of people who bike.”

Cathy has been an activist for climate change, transportation, and healthy cities for over 30 years and has long list of accomplishments and awards for her work as a community organizer, nonprofit founder (Seattle Neighborhood Greenways) and city staffer. In 2019 she ran for a seat on Seattle City Council and tied for third in a crowded race. Last summer, this 65-year-old, self-described “climate warrior” decided to move to Portland, currently lives downtown, and uses a bike as her main way to get around. While some people in Cathy’s shoes might consider slowing down after working so hard for so long on these issues, Cathy is just as committed as ever to make an impact and was just voted to the board of Bike Loud PDX, a local nonprofit whose main goal is to push Portland into being a city where 25% of all trips are made by bike by 2030.

Screenshot of our recording session.

In this interview, you’ll hear why Cathy chose to move to Portland, how her bike has become her personal mobility device, and how she’s avoided burnout after more than three decades of advocacy. We also talked about how being a bureaucrat has helped her become a better advocate.

Cathy and I also traded thoughts about the state of bicycling and transportation reform in Portland, whether current PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is — or can be — a real champion for the cause, and how Cathy’s recently completed Car Master Plan unlocks important clues on how to help us reach that exciting 25% cycling goal.

Links from the episode:

BikePortland coverage of a Portland research trip Cathy organized with Seattle policymakers in 2014.
— PDFs of findings from her Car Master Plan Research Project: Asphalt, Car Budgets, Parking Cars

This episode was recorded on January 11th. Due to Covid concerns, Cathy joined us virtually.

This podcast is a production of Pedaltown Media Inc., and is made possible by listeners like you. If you’re not a subscriber yet, please become one today at bikeportland.org/support. You can listen to more episodes and find out how to subscribe at bikeportland.org/podcast.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

That was a fascinating interview, thank you Jonathan, thank you Cathy! It is really good to listen to the perspective of an outsider/newcomer who nevertheless has had an eyeball on Portland for years. The discussion toward the end about lost momentum, and the need for vision and leadership at the local level was very insightful.

2 years ago

Big thank you to Cathy for all the hard work she has done and continues to do to make our cities people-centered.

Another great interview, Jonathan. Thank you.

2 years ago

I’m glad someone’s talking about the amount of asphalt in cities.
It wouldn’t be much at first in the overall scheme of things, but I have been thinking how nice it would be if my street, a neighborhood street, weren’t overall so wide. More trees, less speeding, more hell-strip planting, less (maybe a bit) of the heat island effect, etc., etc. It seems like something like narrowing neighborhood streets could at least help the total amount of asphalt a tiny bit, and perhaps add up to something significant over time, and have the added benefit of livability.

2 years ago

I thought the bike infrastructure roll was still going too, Cathy. Public transit & cycling are really the main reasons I moved to Portland. I have bee n disappointed.