Ray Delahanty is not your average Portland pundit — especially when it comes to transportation takes. A Portland State University graduate and long-time Portland resident, he quit the transportation planning field during Covid and started making videos on YouTube. (Read this great profile of him published last month.)
Today he’s a full-time YouTuber and his channel (“that embraces all things cities and transportation, approaching things with a profound love for urban environments and an analytical bent”) has over 203,000 subscribers. A video he posted six days ago about downtown Portland has over 113,000 views and over 800 conments. Suffice it to say Ray has a ton of very loyal fans and his views on transportation travel very far.
So when his Portland video mentioned the Broadway bike lane scandal, a lot of people heard about it. (Note: When Ray was a planning consultant, he was part of the team hired by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to develop the Central City in Motion plan that the Broadway bike lane came out of, so he has considerable insights to share.)
Here’s what Ray said about Broadway in his video (it starts 9:27 mark):
“For years, my commute took me down SW Broadway, and the new protected bike lane that we did last year was something I was really excited to see — not only because I spent years white-knuckling it in the door-zone bike lane that used to be there, but it is a project that came out of Central City in Motion — a City of Portland effort that I’m extremely proud to have worked on.
Was it super busy? No. But keep in mind Portland State University at the south end of Broadway is a big driver of bike traffic and classes weren’t in yet, so it’s all good. Well… unless… breaking news… like two days after I left Portland, the PBOT director emailed staff and directed them to rip out the bike lane. The story is still evolving as I’m filming this, but pretty much everything we know about this is because PBOT staff aren’t on board and just leaked the whole thing to Jonathan at BikePortland… if it wasn’t for outlets like BikePortland, you wouldn’t even know half the stuff was going on in our cities. Jonathan has written BikePortland for like 18 years and still as important as ever so consider supporting it if you have the wherewithal…
Anyway; Portland, I want to think the best of you, but this is extremely unserious behavior. I worked on this project. It took years of planning and outreach, millions of dollars of staffing consultant time just to get Central City in Motion adopted… It took a whole bunch of analysis, countless meetings and outreach to get agreement on how we were going to fit that protected southbound facility on SW Broadway. And I know there were a lot of business owners who didn’t like it. But when City Council adopted the plan, it was basically saying ‘We think trying to meet mode share targets and climate-related goals is more important than pretty minor inconveniences for a few businesses.’
The hotels on SW Broadway have to put their valet on the far side of the protected bike lane. Well, you know what, when I stayed in Portland on this trip, I’d stayed in a hotel on SW Broadway and I had to take an Uber there from the airport because airport MAX line is under renovation. And guess what? It didn’t even register to me that I had to cross a bike lane with my suitcase. It literally made no difference and it has no impact on my likelihood of staying at that hotel again. What might impact the likelihood of staying in a hotel is whether the hotel owners are jerks or not.
And it’s really pretty insane, planners who are usually pretty progressive-minded people by nature are out here doing years of extensive community outreach to every impacted community. They’re doing land acknowledgments and stuff. But if a rich business owner wants to take out a bike lane, they can just like take a city council member out to a nice lunch or something? I can’t even imagine how demoralizing this is for staff and I know a lot of PBOT staff and I feel for them. All I can say is try to remember why you got into planning and engineering in the first place.”
Watch the video above or on the CityNerd channel.
In related news, I’ve received a trove of emails (1,121 pages long!) from a public records request related to the Broadway bike lane scandal. I’ve gone through it and have learned a lot more about why and how the entire fiasco might have unfolded. I’m working to confirm more details and am considering my next move. Stay tuned.