This morning Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler made it official: Commissioner Mingus Mapps will take over control of the transportation bureau. Mapps inherits the duty from former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
The move to put Mapps in charge of PBOT (which won’t come a big surprise to BikePortland readers since we predicted it back in November) could be another sign that bicycling is on its way back to the front-and-center of local politics — a position it hasn’t enjoyed since about 2014 when our bike-to-work rate peaked at 7.2%. Portland has not had a PBOT commissioner who’s been both a strong champion for cycling and a regular rider themselves since 2012.
Mapps’ predecessor Hardesty, who oversaw the bureau from 2020 to 2022, didn’t own a bicycle. Former Commissioner Chloe Eudaly (2018-2020), who preceded Hardesty, was a regular bike rider too, but focused her two years at the helm on bus priority lanes instead of cycling. Before Eudaly there was Dan Saltzman (2017) and Steve Novick (2013-2016) — neither of whom ever rode bikes in the city. Former Mayor Sam Adams, who was in charge of PBOT from 2005 to 2012, was the last City Hall denizen who made cycling a focus of both his political and personal life.
In interviews with BikePortland, Mapps has said he’s a reluctant car driver who prefers to bike and take the bus. He also regularly rides around his southeast Portland neighborhood with his two young sons.
During his campaign in May 2020 Mapps told BikePortland he’s been a daily bike commuter since the 1980s. In that same interview he said he wanted to, “Help solve the paradox of declining bike commuting in Portland,” by implementing the city’s Bike Plan for 2030 and by working harder to, “Renew Portland’s cycling culture, with an emphasis on inclusion, equity, public health, public education, and fun.” And in an interview following his victory over Chloe Eudaly in November 2012, Mapps said he planned to ride his bike to City Hall everyday once it reopened post-Covid. “I’m an advocate for the bike community that’s for sure,” he said. “I think you have a healthier, happier city when you have more people cycling… The question is, how long do we take to get from here to there?”
A major issue looming over cycling for many Portlanders is the scofflaw, reckless behavior of many drivers and the dangers it poses to us all. A major difference between Mapps and Hardesty that could impact how people drive is their different approach to police reform and their role in enforcing traffic laws. Hardesty was the Portland Police Bureau’s strongest critic on City Council and famously attempted to reduce $18 million from their budget. That and other positions and statements about police, coupled with PBOT leadership that also distanced itself from the PPB, created a situation where the bureau in charge of the streets had an almost nonexist and arguably dysfunctional relationship with the bureau in charge of enforcing laws on them. This has led to a sense of lawlessness on our roads and a culture at the City of Portland where officials say they care about traffic safety, but the statistics say otherwise.
With Mapps at the helm — and with nearly three years since racial justice and police brutality protests upended Portland politics — that relationship between PBOT and the PPB is likely to thaw.
The Portland Police Association (the union that represents officers) endorsed Mapps and donated $15,000 to his election campaign. With Mapps, we have someone who is aware of the pitfalls of policing, but who is more than willing to work with them. As a Black man, Mapps told me in a past interview that he avoids driving because, “When I get behind the wheel of a car, I have fewer civil rights than everyone else.” Mapps agreed that the PPB needs real reform and he even went so far as to say if the conduct of some officers is, “a product of systemic racism, we need to fix it.” He would have voted against Hardesty’s police budget cut, but sees a future where PPB is smaller and much of low-level traffic enforcement is out of their hands.
In addition to managing transportation and being the de facto boss of PBOT Director Chris Warner (who’s now on his third commissioner), Mapps will also become the city’s representative on key regional and project-specific advisory bodies like Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation and the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. He’s likely going to continue Hardesty’s efforts to strengthen the City of Portland’s support of State of Oregon’s controversial attempt to widen I-5 through the Rose Quarter.
Overall, Mapps being in charge of PBOT should help put transportation front and center at City Hall in a way we haven’t seen for many years. And Mapps won’t be alone: Former PBOT Director Tom Miller is working for new Commissioner Rene Gonzalez and former PBOT Commissioner Sam Adams in a top staffer in the Mayor’s office. If these three wanted to hatch a major transportation reform, they already have all the votes they’d need.
During my interview with Mapps in November 2020 I asked him about cycling’s decline in Portland. “[Former Portland Mayor] Sam [Adams] and I talked several times and he’s really proud of his bike legacy, which has kind of fallen off the map,” Mapps said. “So he’s been kind of poking and prodding me on that.”
Those pokes and prods might feel a bit different now the Mapps can actually do something about it.
— See the full list of bureau assignments here.
Good. It’s about time we had a realist in charge of this bureau.
What does that even mean? What is a realist? What isn’t a realist? What makes him a realist?
Wishing Mingus (and Portland) the best on a new start. Portland has a long road of recovery from the disaster Eudaly and Hardesty years.
So Portland has to recover from the only two progressive council members that we’ve had for years? / The only two who weren’t mouthpieces for the Portland Business Alliance and the Portland Police Union?
Does that make anyone who is center/ left of center NOT a “Realist”?
Will there be a “transportation commissioner” when the new city government is formed?
Nope. Not technically at least. I can imagine that certain commissioners are known for certain things and if one were to really embrace transportation as an issue they might be referred to as “the transportation commissioner” but it will be in name only since they won’t be in charge of PBOT.
No, David, we’ll have a transportation professional in charge of the transportation bureau, instead of some hack who gets the most votes and knows nothing about – and cares less about – transportation.
There will be no more commissioners, thank god – just elected representatives who will debate and pass ordinances that professionals will carry out.
So PBOT will become even more like ODOT?
It already has.
Great news! I believe he is the only council member who regularly rides to work. Also my favorite council member this past year. Glad to have him aboard
Why do you say that he rides to work?
Because the article says he does. Do you need photos? Videos?? I’d like to see them also but would he risk a lie like that? Cyclists in Portland always know who cycles, which is how we all knew Joann didn’t – though she looked great in that Nike bike photo op.
My kid was elementary school friends with his kid. They biked all over when the kids went to Buckman.
I wrote to all city council members in November, after giving verbal public testimony at their tree code amendment meeting, requesting that they add abatement of tree-smothering vines like Clematis Vitalba to the code.
Mingus Mapps’s office (his Policy Assistant & Constituent Services Representative, Jackson Pahl) was the only one who took the time to actually look into it and send me a thoughtful reply.
That said something positive to me about his responsiveness.
Mapps is totally useless, so I’d guess that PBOT mainly stays the course or at worst puts safety projects on the back burner to prioritize making the roads faster for cars.
Considering Mapps thinks an area is too dense if you can’t park on the street in front of your house, my expecations are pretty low that PBOT will do anything about our dangerous intersections.
What garbage. Everyone “agrees” PPB needs reform because it’s political suicide to say differently (for good reason). Even far-right Rene will give lip service to police reform.
At the end of the day Mapps, Ted, and the PPB are not interested in real reform and we shouldn’t pretend they are.
Far right Rene will vote 100% of the time with Ted, Mingus, and Dan in my guess #2023Predictions, And those four won’t do ANYTHING without checking in with the Republican loving Portland Business Alliance, or the Portland Police Union.
Someone fight me on this one!
LOL. “Far right” Rene. Gonzalez, who is a left of center Democrat would be considered a socialist in Texas. Certainly hope with him, Mapps and Wheeler we can make Portland livable (and bikeable) once again.
There’s been a conservative majority on the city council for two years. The city has been run by west hills conservatives for decades. How livable is Portland right now?
Only in Portland would the current lot be considered “conservative”.
FTFY. A timber baron who was a republican until he wanted to run for office, a far-right politico who funded anti-lgbtq candidates, and a guy who is partly funded from the fascist police union are not left wing, no matter how much you both sides it.
I’m seeing lots of labels in your response, but not much analysis of the conservative policies enacted by this supposedly conservative majority.
Conservatives don’t enact policies. They don’t govern. That’s their whole schtick. Conservatives gain power by complaining about other people and playing into low-information voters biases and (usually) uninformed beliefs. But they never have actual plans or alternatives.
Portland is decaying because all real solutions would run afoul of the wealthy landed elite who pull Ted and Dan’s strings. Ted can’t fix the police because the police own him and don’t want to be fixed. So crime will continue to rise as we pour money down the hole that is PPB and ignore actual solutions to the problem.
The only positive action the city has conducted in the last five years is Portland Street Response, and Ted put Rene in charge of that so he could kill it.
So, to be clear, your thesis is that Portland is in the mess it is because conservatives haven’t fixed it, and that one of the most liberal/progressive cities in America keeps rewarding this failure by electing more conservatives?
I am curious what “real solutions” you think would be effective, possible, and have sufficient political support to enact that would undo the damage Portland has suffered over the past 4 years.
WTF are you talking about? It’s like a whirlpool of insane hypocrisy. Sure, Portland has ostensibly ‘liberal’ politicians, but behind the curtain they are all beholden to the landed gentry and local business ‘leaders’ for their support.
The Commission form of government came straight out of the Jim Crow South, with all of the classism and racism that entails. Good riddance to that, two years is almost way too long to wait.
Portland has an overwhelmingly liberal/progressive electorate (including me) who elect liberal/progressive politicians, who enact liberal/progressive policies that haven’t proven effective at solving our current range of problems.
It’s not the fault of “the system”, and the reality on the ground won’t change much with charter reform. We’ll still be electing mediocre politicians dealing with intractable problems without good solutions. We’ll just have more fingers in the pie, and bureaus will be more insulated from the public, which I personally dislike, but some people seem to prefer.
You’re going to be disappointed, not because things are suddenly going to get worse, but because they’re more-or-less going to stay the same, and your expectations are way too high.
I more or less agree. Having a little more diversity does not necessarily mean the majority vote of the council will deviate much from Good Old Portland Business As Usual.
You have to be either a sadist or a masochist to actually want to be a politician these days. And yes, they are all beholden to the people behind the ever-thinning curtain.
Until we ban the spending of unlimited amounts of money on elections (by so-called third parties) most elected officials will continue to be beholden to the moneyed elite.
I am fairly confident council is going to be whiter moving forward.
The nice thing about me being so liberal is that it makes me feel good driving my electric car everywhere and getting on a plane to Costa Rica for my eco-vacation. I some times feel a little guilty but then say to myself – at least I am not a racist, anti-vaccer, Trump supporter, or drive a Hummer.
I hope you bought some carbon offsets for your vacation!
So your stated “conservative majority” on the Portland city council has been: Hardesty, Ryan and Rubio? LOL. I would call that a far left ideologue majority with 3/5 Council votes.
Haha, if you consider Ryan far left, it’s just evidence of how far you’ve moved to the right. Hardesty is the only left-wing person on the council in the last term.
Wheeler, Ryan, and Mapps are all neo-liberal conservatives. Who knows about Rubio, her strategy seems to be ‘do nothing, say nothing’, which seems to be working so far.
Too many people don’t realize neo-liberal and conservatives are not opposites.
Right, Obama and Trump are exactly the same…
Pelosi and Marjorie Greene are exactly the same…
Very thoughtful discussion…
The real lack of thought is barring any criticism or discussion other than “Trump bad, Obama good”. Those are not the two options. Very thoughtful indeed.
Nowhere did I say Trump good, that doesn’t mean neoliberals like Pelosi are therefore good.
Get this: both can be bad. Hence, neo-liberal and conservative are not opposites.
Bernie Sanders voted with Biden and Obama 90% of the time.
Is he too right wing For a political genius like yourself?
You do not know my political beliefs beyond the fact that neoliberal and conservative are not opposites. I did not lay out my manifesto for my entire political belief system and reasoning, because this is clearly not the place or thread for it. You are the one coming on here with childish strawman arguments.
What I will say is that despite having two parties, they are both further to the right and conservative in general. What you cannot extrapolate, but no doubt will anyway because you’re acting immature, is that this means I believe Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same and that nothing good has ever happened under a Democrat. Specifically at the city council level which is what we’re actually talking about here.
If you come back with any more non-sequitur ramblings, just imagine me pointing at this comment.
About to close comments on this post. Please take your personal back-and-forth outside. Thank you.
Please explain how you got from “neo-liberal and conservatives are not opposites” to “Pelosi and Taylor-Green are exactly the same”.
Greene thinks Jews are using space lasers to change the climate.
Exactly like Nancy Pelosi isn’t she?
Neo liberals are just like conservatives aren’t they?
This passes for discussion with John.
I just took a set of implicit bias surveys and they asked to choose my political beliefs with a range from very conservative to very liberal. Fortunately they had an option for “skip question”.
How’d you do?
Little or no bias except for a preference for disabled people and gay people. No apologies for that implicit bias.
I started that test, but had a hard time doing things like classifying “sadness” to be good or bad. It’s both, and also neither. I know the response they wanted, but it got me in the mode of thinking not about what I thought, but what I thought the test makers were thinking about what I thought, which kind of defeated the purpose.
The arbitrary definitions of good and bad seemed silly but not sure they mattered as long as you were consistent.
Dan only votes with Ted and Mingus (And the Portland Business Alliance/ and the Portland Police Union.
Can we please talk about cycling? Has anyone noticed how the bike lanes are almost unrideable at the moment? I’m taking the lane almost everywhere.
It’s hard to tell if comments like this are parody or not. The political discourse in this city is really something else.
This city was very well run and exremely livable until 8 years ago …
*** Moderator: deleted last phrase, stick with ideas ***
As an actual socialist, I view the democratic party as a right wing party. And if one actually compared the democratic party’s policy positions to center-right parties in other wealthy nations, it would be to the right of all of them. For example, christian democratic parties played a role in creating and strengthening the European welfare state.
I won’t – Looking forward to this alliance to clean up our city and make it safe for my kids to bike to school again
Do you even know where he lives? Really dense Buckman. I’d like to know if you are writing this from the comfort of your R5-zoned outer NE neighborhood.
Compared to some of the other commissioners, it seems Mapp’s has a pretty heavy workload and I wonder how much attention he will be able to pay to it all.
Also, like others, I would like to see some sort of evidence that Mapps is a daily bicycle commuter, other than someone just tossing that statement out there.
So his ability to manage PBOT boils down to that singular aspect?
And since when have “daily commuters” been the sole beneficiary of bike infrastructure? These facilities are built for all riders to utilize and enjoy, not just the hardcore anti-car zealots that BikePortland commenters think represent the interests of Portland (I’ve got some bad news for you…).
But then again Mapps is no stranger to these identity-based attacks from the left. From his council campaign onward there have been people claiming he’s not liberal, he’s not progressive, even that he’s not a Person of Color. It’s disgusting to read the smears. I generally don’t speak up unless I see something especially egregious, but FDUP is dog whistling with the worst of them.
Even if he’s not a daily commuter, he is still by far the most bike-oriented member on council, and definitely understands our perspective. I think it’s great that he’s in charge of PBOT.
Mapps is a Portland Business Alliance shill. He will do whatever they want, which is usually turning every square foot of public space into a parking lot or high speed highway to please suburban single occupancy vehicle commuters.
It’s funny you say that, because he was a very strong advocate for community involvement when we worked for ONI/OCCL, before Eudaly fired him for standing up to her BS.
“PBA shill” feels like the latest generic accusation used to smear politicians you don’t like. Why not explain why you feel your accusation is justified, or specifically what you are upset about?
He has completely aligned himself with the PBA and the candidates policies that they have supported. I don’t have time to make the list for you and I have no interest in convincing you to change your mind. Your deflection of my comment makes clear that you are not discussing in good faith.
Were did my comment on Vera Katz go?
Hi FDUP, I just approved your Vera Katz comment. I had originally put it in the trash. My hesitation is that the comment threads can escalate incrementally and become inflammatory very quickly, especially when discussing politics.
You have introduced the words Jewish, Nazi, and KKK. Now people can respond to those things, and the thread goes off the rails.
Those words can provoke strong emotions in people and need to be used carefully. By analogy, many cyclists had a strong reaction to seeing the white bicycles in NE Portland. Possibly someone is using that symbol differently that its original meaning.
The content of your comment is that Portland hasn’t had good mayors since before Vera Katz. It seems to me that could have been said without escalating the language.
I agree. Unnecessarily inflammatory language.
Fair enough, but at least every one of my statements was actually true, unlike some posers/posters these days.
Really, no one elected mayor since Bud Clarke has done Portland any favors.
I don’t fact check comments, it would take too much time. But I just spent 15 minutes fact-checking your Kroeker/nazi statement (and another 10 writing this comment).
The only articles I found linking those two words were from 2003, describing how Police Chief Mark Kroeker disciplined an officer named Mark Kruger for excessive force. Kruger was also accused of having Nazi paraphernalia:
Maybe I didn’t look deeply enough, and the incidents were 20 years ago. But in general, if a commenter is going to make strong statements, the person should flesh out the details and provide a link.
Whether Katz bedded Kim Kimbrough, I have no idea. Again, take a paragraph to flesh out the details. They are probably interesting, or maybe you are remembering wrong.
I just re-deleted the comment.
Kruger did not just have Nazi “parephenalia” but nailed memorials to Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht war criminals to a tree in a Portland public park. And just a few years later the mild disciplinary actions were reversed (as is often the case with the utterly unaccountable popo).
The PPB also withheld evidence of these plaques when Kruger was facing federal lawsuits for violence directed at anti-war protestors:
A Portland Police officer has also been found to have affinity for the three percenters who are labeled as a neo-Nazi terrorist group in Canada.
It should be noted that these examples came about as a result of a lucky break and resulting investigative journalism. It makes one wonder just how many Nazis/fascists exist in the ranks of the PPB.
Hi Lisa, my response to your comment with some fact-checking was marked as spam.
I just came to catch up on the article, and these comments are…something. Bunch of guys bickering about who is the most left, not left enough, and very little about Mapps’s leadership except that he’s a PBA schill and a fake bike commuter. FWIW I see him and his boys out riding in our neighborhood.