How would 42 Portland political candidates help us reach Vision Zero?

Ghost bike for Mark Angeles on corner of SE Gladstone and Cesar Chavez. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

NOTE: This is the second post in a series. The answers shared have been highly edited for brevity. Please read the full responses at Bike Loud’s website.

Local bike advocacy nonprofit BikeLoud PDX asked all City of Portland candidates* to answer eight questions gleaned from their members. The second question, “How would you help Vision Zero succeed, and reduce the number of people killed and injured by automobiles in Portland?” was answered by 38 city council candidates and four mayoral candidates.

I’ve gone through the submissions and pulled out 1-2 particularly salient sentences from each candidate. The very abbreviated answers below are based on what I personally found to be the most interesting/notable/newsworthy parts of their responses. For the full answers, visit BikeLoud’s website. I’ve also shared photos of each candidate in the order their responses were shared (if you’re on mobile, be sure to hit the arrow and scroll through the images.) The photos were taken from the Rose City Reform candidate tracker.

Read edited responses from all 42 candidates below:

City Council District 1

Timur Ender

I will advocate for protected intersections where signal timing phases are separated between bicycle and pedestrian movements and right turning cars.

Sonja Mckenzie

… start by supporting the creation of an education and community engagement plan for our community…

Steph Routh

First, we need to believe as a city that Vision Zero is possible. Second, we need to be clear about the devastating impacts of traffic deaths in our communities.

David Linn

Use data-driven upgrades to target high-risk areas, especially routes to schools and bike/bus transit routes can help us invest our money prudently.

City Council District 2

Elana Pirtle-Guiney

… we have to slow cars down and make more spaces and more space (different things, and both important) for bike and pedestrian users.

Christopher Olson

Create a network of protected urban trails across the city. 

Nat West

Close the intersection where a death or car-on-bike/ped crash occurs until inexpensive and temporary traffic calming measures can be installed… Immediate application of daylighting on all city intersections. 

Michelle DePass

I’m in favor of more enforcement. Just this week I’ve witnessed cars in bikes lanes on Williams Avenue, and multiple red light runners at the intersection of Fremont and Williams.

Debbie Kitchin

Road signage and marking should be consistent across the city so all users understand what is expected… combine driver education with more diligent enforcement of driving rules.

Mariah Hudson

… implementing protective barriers and dedicated lanes to minimize the risk of collisions. There needs to be a culture shift and greater responsibility among motorists if we want to significantly reduce the incidence of accidents.

Jonathan Tasini

We need to prioritize people by prioritizing other modes of transportation rather than cars by investing in public transportation, bicycling, and changing the city’s physical infrastructure to save lives.

Mike Marshall

I’d work with the OLCC to evaluate reducing overall access to alcohol and shutting down establishments linked to continued fatalities.

Laura Streib

We need separate streets for vehicles and for bikes to reduce the number of people killed/injured by autos.

Will Mespelt

… we need to start enforcing traffic regulations in a meaningful way to protect bikers and increase general safety for all non car users.

City Council District 3

Tiffany Koyama Lane

Introduce and fight for policy that centers SAFETY for our streets over SPEED.

Rex Burkholder

Higher penalties for motorists who hit vulnerable road users or break speed limits, run signals/stop signs including license suspensions and loss of vehicles. 

Theo Hathaway Saner

Lowering speed limits in areas with high bike traffic and installing speed bumps can reduce accidents.

Daniel Gilk

To achieve real systemic change, we need to redesign our transit systems to better incentivize residents to drive less.

Angelita Morillo

Environmental changes such as [the Arleta Triangle Square Plaza project at SE 72nd & Woodstock] can have tremendous affects on neighborhoods and pedestrian safety – we just need to prioritize them.

Jonathan Walker

We need the resources so every hit and run is fully investigated and prosecuted… For the plan to work, the city needs to get serious about making sure cars are registered and have license plates.

Matthew Thomas Anderson

A fundamental change is needed to the visibility of the bike. Light is not the only visual cue we use to identify a moving car or threat when driving.

Daniel DeMelo

When we adopted Vision Zero, we failed to establish a timeline for achieving our goal of zero traffic deaths. This oversight has made it difficult to assess whether our safety investments are delivering the expected results.

Philippe Knab

I would focus on improving infrastructure, enhancing public awareness, and enforcing traffic laws.

Sandeep Bali

More accountability for reckless drivers.

Jesse Cornett

I will lobby in Salem to eliminate the preemption that does not allow Portland to tax alcohol… Portland should pass a tax on beer and wine and use part of the revenue for better public education about the danger of drinking and driving.

Chris Flanary

Paint alone doesn’t stop vehicles, we need to create the protective bike lanes and traffic-calming measures to slow cars down.

Council – District 4

Mike DiNapoli

Increase visibility for all commuters with additional street and safety lighting.

Olivia Clark

Bring back and expand the Portland Police Traffic Division for enforcement.

Ben Hufford

Traffic Rules and are a language that people learn… Consistent rules, physical separation of bikes from cars and prioritizing maintenance of systems should be the standard.

Chad Lykins

I will propose legislation that prohibits the removal of infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit before (1) the completion of comparable alternatives and (2) validation that these alternatives function as well or better than the infrastructure being removed.

Sarah Strawberry Silkie

Increase enforcement of speed violations – traffic is consistently 5-20 mph over the posted speed limit…

Michael Trimble

I want to make many streets car free zones giving pedestrians and cyclists their own walkways/bike lanes.

Eli Arnold

We need stricter traffic enforcement combined with an end to street camping along roadsides. 

Andra Vltavín

I will be working toward phasing out fossil fuel use altogether. 

Eric Zimmerman

I think standardization of lanes leads to safer streets. We have also introduced a lot of distracting factors to the roadway for all users… These are creating different decision-making and norms across the city and it is not helpful from a safety perspective.

Lisa Freeman

We need to de-prioritize cars in our decision making, and prioritize safety, especially that of our most vulnerable populations…

Bob Weinstein

Increase funding for safe infrastructure: Allocate more resources to redesign dangerous intersections, expand protected bike lanes, and implement traffic calming measures in high-risk areas.

Mitch Green

…treat traffic injuries and deaths as a public health issue… Shelter and house our most vulnerable who are living on roadways so that people driving cars don’t kill them.

Mayor

Liv Østhus

Using data around specific areas and intersections, I will advocate for PSUs urban planning teams to join in evidenced based solutions. 

Durrell Javon Kinsey Bey

Work with the several non profits that have already been doing this work…

Keith Wilson

I do not consider paint and flexible poles adequate safety infrastructure. I support permanent materials to protect biking corridors.

Carmen Rubio

I want our police department to work with the District Attorney’s office to see what evidence and process would be needed to prosecute more drivers for vehicular homicide or assault. While I generally do not support sending more people through the justice system, I also recognize the fear of prosecution can be a strong deterrent.


I find the format of this project by BikeLoud interesting and useful in large part because they’ve received such a large volume of responses. That means we can see what folks have in common and what issues we might find some consensus and political majority for. On that note, I noticed 16 candidates mentioned the need for stronger enforcement. 12 specifically called out the need for physical protection of bicycling facilities, and six mentioned the need to address homelessness due to the vulnerability of people who live along streets.

What other trends or commonalities did you find in the answers?

BikeLoud will post more responses in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for question #3 and see related posts for more 2024 Portland election coverage.

*BikeLoud sent the questionnaire to all candidates that had filed a letter of intent as of May 27th.

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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Fred
Fred
17 days ago

I read all 42 responses and my overall impression is that all of the candidates are dabbling around the edges of the problem – saying things that sound positive and sensible, but not really getting to the root of the problem.

If Portland were to do Vision Zero the right way, it would mean that every time there were a fatality, the road, intersection, or path where the fatality occurred would be CLOSED until a systematic review and re-construction of the infrastructure were completed. It would be similar to the FAA grounding the 737-MAX until the plane could be certified as safe for people to fly in.

Would it be hard on everyone? Yes, it would. Would it require some huge political cojones? Yes it would. PBOT would need to tell people to find alternate routes or means of travel. If traffic backed up b/c dangerous chokepoints were closed, then people would need to take a bus (horrors!) or ride a bike or do something other than get into a car, as people are used to doing.

Here’s an example: A few years ago a guy in a wheelchair was killed in a crosswalk on Barbur Blvd in SW Portland. Lisa astutely pointed out on BP that many crosswalks on Barbur are severely angled to accommodate streets that enter at oblique angles. The geometry of these intersections greatly increases the length of the crosswalk, making it more likely that a person will still be in the crosswalk when the light turns green.

So that happened. Has *anything* been done to implement VZ and make this intersection safer for vulnerable users? Not that I can see. ODOT controls Barbur, so that’s pretty much all you need to know. Our collective response is to throw up our hands and say “Oh well,” which I’m pretty sure isn’t in the VZ playbook.

I don’t think a single candidate is really ready to implement VZ. Most haven’t really thought about it deeply enough and lack the will to make it really happen.

Watts
Watts
17 days ago

Hi Jonathan,

I’d ask that you put a pin in this conversation and come back to it in Jan 2026 and we can see what the folks who are elected have actually done after a year in office, and compare it to what they said they would do here.

If Nat West gets elected we can see how hard he actually advocates for indefinitely closing intersections/streets after crashes. My prediction is he either never raises the idea, or raises it quietly once then lets it go forever. I’d love to be proven wrong, if only to see a politician actually go to the mat for his zany ideas once elected.

Nat West
Nat West
17 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Yep good point. Call me on it: 971-202-9138

Fred
Fred
17 days ago

Thanks, Jonathan, for reminding me that posting on BP is mostly a big waste of time and I need to do less of it.

Thanks also for reminding me of the old adage: An organization can never be better than the person in charge of it.

Sky
Sky
16 days ago

I think that if one person’s negativity and cynicism can dampen a political movement, then that political movement isn’t very strong or well organized.

I also believe that putting the blame on an individual for having a well earned opinion on politicians is counter productive to the political movement. We have all seen how politicians lie through their teeth to get elected, and once elected, stop giving a shit about things they ran on. It’s up to politicians, candidates, and political organizations/movements to put in the work to prove that peoples negativity and cynicism is no longer warranted.

BP also did a disservice to everyone by cutting the answers down for this article, and then asking people to click on another link to read the full answers. It may seem silly, but every extra click needed to get somewhere will reduce the amount of people getting to that place.

Watts
Watts
15 days ago

make a lot of people tune out and be overwhelmed

This is exactly the problem with the new system; there will be so many candidates on the ballot, without a way of winnowing the field to a manageable number, it will be completely overwhelming for most voters to be informed about their options, never mind the cognitive energy it takes to rank options.

If posting one complete answer to one question for the limited number of candidates who chose to respond to a niche interest group is too much, how is the system going to cope with a wider range of candidates with a much broader spectrum of interests?

Probably by relying on name recognition and delegating the decision to WW or the Oregonian or some other organization. (WW wrote that they themselves are feeling overwhelmed, and they’re the pros.)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

I also disagree with Watts on the “so many candidates,” “winnowing the field” arguments. I find the Small Donor Elections website to be the best way of tracking the candidates and their campaigns.

Why? because garnering small donations is a proxy for organizing ability and community support. The small donor database is sortable by number of donations, total $ amount given, the public match earned, and segmented into size of donation.

Pick a district and scroll through, there tends to be an abrupt cut-off in number of small donations which serves to separate viable from non-viable candidates. That right there eliminates about half of the candidates.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

So… rather than voting to winnow the field, we’ll use money as a proxy?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

We’ll use being able to get 250 people to give you $5 as a proxy for organizational skills and general support. I’m good with that, and believe that those small donations come from a broader group of people than the narrow group who votes in primaries (for candidates already tapped by big donors).

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

believe that those small donations come from a broader group of people than the narrow group who votes in primaries

I don’t believe this at all; the raw numbers of primary voters are far far higher than the number of donors; is there reason to think those bigger numbers represent a narrower slice of Portland?

Donors are likely to be those most politically motivated. In addition to being willing to part with $5 or more (which is a psychologically barrier for some), you need to be willing to study the candidates more closely than most people are doing this early in the campaign.

At least your hypothesis is testable (so probably, at some point, will be tested), and we’ll know for sure.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

The number of people who vote in the primary is larger than the number of people who have donated to candidates, that’s not surprising. But the variety of people donating with the new form of elections seems to me to be more diverse than past primary voters. That’s just anecdotal, but it is provable if someone wanted to get the data and do the analysis. It’s all public info.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

But the variety of people donating with the new form of elections seems to me to be more diverse than past primary voters.

I have no idea why the diversity of donors would exceed the diversity of voters, when voting has a far lower bar than donating. Do you think people who couldn’t be bothered to vote in past primaries are making contributions this year? How do you get even an anecdotal read on that?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

By looking at how the candidates are raising money. Look at Angelita Morillo, I bet a lot of her small donors have never even voted before. Candidates are going after those small donors with different strategies, and that variation ends up bringing in different groups of people.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

How is Morillo raising her money that strikes you as particularly interesting (besides attempting to hypnotize with her crazy video rapid-zooms)?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

Look at the segmenting by donation amount and compare candidates. Imagine the histogram in your mind. Some candidates are getting a lot of micro-donations, others are mainly in the $100-$250 range. It tells you who they appeal to. My guess is that several candidates are mainly raising online. Morillo’s case, she already has a large online following; others maybe have a database of members/followers/supporters going into the race based on their profession.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

So your argument is that she’s better at harnessing her Insta/TikTok followers, and that group is more diverse than primary voters?

I agree the data available probably suggests that Morillo is getting a lot of small donations via social media, and I think it is plausible that many of those folks may not have voted in past primaries. But is that group really more diverse than primary voters in general?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

No, it’s not, it’s just a segment of voters who haven’t participated before. Some other candidate will bring in parents of young children, some other will bring in cyclists… in aggregate the group of participants will be more diverse than the primary voters of the past.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

Ok, I think I better understand your perspective, and, while I’m not sure I agree, I’ll give it some thought.

Thanks!

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
14 days ago

I think this is wishful thinking. Having a far more complex decision-making tree is likely to reduce turn out — especially over the long-term. I also think that it’s possible that some will see their votes “wasted” due to the very large pools of candidates (24 and counting in D2 — LOL). In fact, I may attempt to vote strategically so that my vote is wasted just for my own personal amusement. (There is no one I’m interested in voting for in my district thus far.)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

The great thing about this is that we will find out pretty soon. My hunch is that turnout won’t be reduced, in fact I think that this recent mid-term election had a relatively high turnout because there has been so much talk about elections over the past year.

But who knows for sure, I’m fascinated and watching pretty closely.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

I expect high turnout because Trump will be on the ballot. If there’s anything that will get a Portlander off the couch, it’s a chance to vote against Trump.

2026 will provide a better measure of participation.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
15 days ago

Thanks, Jonathan, for abridging the responses — I find it very useful. An additional click is a small effort compared to groking 42 full length responses.

jakeco969
jakeco969
16 days ago
Reply to  Sky

As Fred mentioned I too am trying to cut my commenting down, but just had to say that I think BP is doing a phenomenal job of keeping people informed of what is going on during Portland’s literally unprecedented break from it’s political history. So many candidates are responding to questions, participating in interviews and appearing to give speeches at bike happy hour that it seems that BP readers and transportation fans are spoiled with the in depth knowledge they are getting. If you’ve been in Portland for a long time you may have forgotten or not even realize how great that is.
Keep it up JM, knowledge is power after all and the truth is hard to find and best revealed by the unsrcipted moments you can provide with candidates.

Damien
Damien
15 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Hear hear!

qqq
qqq
15 days ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Comment of the Week

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Fred

Damn Fred, you read me! It was one of my first articles:

https://bikeportland.org/2021/01/11/a-closer-look-at-sw-barbur-blvd-324569

BB
BB
17 days ago

Jesse Cornett is off my list. His answer to vision zero is a new tax for public service announcements about something that has been a serious issue forever.
Not new money to actually enforce and stop the behavior that kills people but
new money to give drunk drivers a good talking to.
Ridiculous.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
17 days ago

The contrast between Timur Ender’s and Steph Routh’s responces was remarkable. Mr. Ender’s response was detailed and outlined concrete changes while Ms. Routh proposed developing “a shared knowledge of our Vision Zero plan, including actions and performance measures” as a first step. PBOT’s implementation of Vision Zero has been an utter failure (lack of funding and lack of urgency) and it’s hard to see how increasing shared knowledge of this failure will address traffic violence.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
17 days ago

Commonalities: General avoidance by the candidates to discuss how various improvements/enforcement/policies will be paid for?

Mary S
Mary S
17 days ago

CARMEN RUBIO: I want our police department to work with the District Attorney’s office to see what evidence and process would be needed to prosecute more drivers for vehicular homicide or assault. While I generally do not support sending more people through the justice system, I also recognize the fear of prosecution can be a strong deterrent.

So Carmen you don’t want to use the justice system but you want to use it more? Talk about talking out of both sides of one’s mouth. Classic politician. Ugh.

qqq
qqq
17 days ago
Reply to  Mary S

Why do you think she’s talking out of both sides of her mouth?

Her statement seems totally logical to me.

Alexandar H
Alexandar H
3 days ago
Reply to  Mary S

Sounds to me like it is a tough decision for her, but she’s willing to concede use of the justice system for something she sees is important.

cct
cct
17 days ago

Apologies to Eric if I am wrong, but this

Eric Zimmerman

I think standardization of lanes leads to safer streets. We have also introduced a lot of distracting factors to the roadway for all users… These are creating different decision-making and norms across the city and it is not helpful from a safety perspective.

reads to me as “there are too damn many poles, stripes and colors on the road! Makes it hard to drive faster!!”

Chris I
Chris I
17 days ago
Reply to  cct

Several of the answers were similar to this one. They are clearly car-brain and are basically laying the blame for fatalities on PBOT for creating confusing streets.

I’m not aware of a single fatal crash in Portland that was caused by overly confusing lane markings. This is just a horrible response to the question of vision zero and should automatically disqualify this candidate in my book.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
17 days ago
Reply to  cct

Remember, we need to make our stroads safer for car drivers, who are the majority of stroad users, by safely eliminating distractions such as car parking, pedestrians, bicyclists, signage, bike lanes, trees, buses, freight, signals, and critters, and to have uniform stroad width so it’s just wide enough from lane to gutter for an SUV, to keep such needless distractions off our city stroads. Eliminate public parking spaces, add parking garages and parking lots citywide plus new freeways to increase economic competitiveness, and add more traffic lanes, to deal with congestion and to help with climate change by keeping engines from idling. Strong towns are all really for the community’s greater good and for public safety, health, and welfare, all with the best of intentions.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
16 days ago

Were Mapps and Gonzalez not asked or did they just not bother to respond? Also might be good to include a district map because I am guessing most people don’t even know which district number they are going to be voting in.

cct
cct
16 days ago

I strongly suggest all candidates (and readers!) keep an eye on this notice from the City Auditor:
Public Works

  • Management of Vision Zero by the Bureau of Transportation (underway)
  • Bureau of Transportation’s Street Improvements

https://www.portland.gov/audit-services/about-us/audit-schedule-fy-2023-24
I have fingers crossed that the Vision Zero audit is damning enough to get butts kicked into gear. And if it says they are actually doing OK, well – that’s good news, too!

Alexandar H
Alexandar H
4 days ago

A major problem I have as a bicyclist is non-uniform signal timing.

Yellow lights are not long enough for a bicyclist to be prepared for a red light. At most intersections, using the pedestrian light countdown is much more reliable.

The problem is that a lot of intersections are set up so that when The pedestrian light turns fully red, the car light turns yellow immediately, while at other intersections, the car light doesn’t turn yellow until several seconds after the pedestrian light is fully red.

What I have to do when I’m approaching and intersection, then, is I have to approach the intersection and be prepared to stop as if the car light is going to turn yellow the instant the pedestrian light turns fully red. If I don’t do that, I risk being in the intersection while I have a red light, and then being in front of someone who jumps the green in their car.

When the yellow light waits several seconds after the pedestrian light is red, that means I’m stopping for a green light, which is confusing and annoying to lots of people, including me. It also inspires a distrust of the traffic lights from me, which doesn’t help me get through intersections safely. I literally have to have intersections mapped out in my head, like, 7th and Belmont and 7th and Morrison have the yellow light instantly when the pedestrian signal goes red, but Grand and Morrison does not.

It would go a long way to making signalized intersections safer if it was standardized that at ALL signalized intersections in Portland, either the yellow light comes on immediately when a pedestrian light is fully red (not flashing), or that there is a standardized delay, like 2 seconds, but it only works if it is EVERY SINGLE TRAFFIC LIGHT that is programmed to work THE EXACT SAME WAY, because we need the traffic lights to be predictable.

Alexandar H
Alexandar H
3 days ago

“Nat West

Close the intersection where a death or car-on-bike/ped crash occurs until inexpensive and temporary traffic calming measures can be installed…”

That sounds extreme, but I can’t really disagree. It would definitely call attention to traffic deaths as a problem if the intersection where it happened was closed for a day or two in response. I’m imagining what happens if like nobody can drive through the intersection of Powell and 82nd, and they’re like why is this intersection closed? oh yeah, someone died there.