43 candidates share their vision for transportation in Portland

It took vision to go from this pilot project in 2016 to the Better Naito we have now. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

NOTE: This is the third post in a series. The answers 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 third question, “What is your vision for transportation in Portland?” was answered by 39 city council candidates and four mayoral candidates.

I’ve gone through the submissions and pulled out a short quote from each candidate. These 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 43 candidates below:

City Council District 1

Timur Ender

I am committed to a future where more of our arterials have bus rapid transit given the importance of reducing commute times and the impact this has on upward economic mobility and life expectancy.

Sonja Mckenzie

To have accessible and safe transportation for all Portlanders, regardless of their zip code.

Steph Routh

 People can age in community with dignity because they have options that allow them to get around at any age… Businesses, particularly small businesses, can thrive as more people connect with them while walking or biking by. Families can live more easily on their incomes and have more time together.

David Linn

That everyone can get where they need to go safely, with negligible impacts to our environment, and that is affordable to working class Portlanders. 

City Council District 2

Elana Pirtle-Guiney

We should be honest about who, where, and why, cars will be needed so that we can plan appropriately while also investing for denser neighborhoods with safe bike corridors, pedestrian friendly opportunities, and rapid transit.

Christopher Olson

More public transportation options… Safe biking and pedestrian infrastructure across the city… public transportation should be fareless.

Nat West

Narrower streets, with more walkable neighborhoods, and less commuting between housing, retail, and work… I also want to plant a seed for eventual removal of I-5 on the east side of the river. We did it for Harbor Drive.

Michelle DePass

The vision is of closed streets in front of elementary schools; a car free downtown, and a Portland whose bike infrastructure works for all.

Debbie Kitchin

My vision for Portland includes a multi-modal transportation system that has robust transit, safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure, plans for freight transportation and cars. 

Mariah Hudson

Imagine a Portland where we are connected by a vibrant Green Loop, a continuous ribbon of green space bustling with bikes, pedestrians, and lively plazas… We build housing with transit in mind, creating vibrant, mixed-use developments that are seamlessly integrated with public transit. 

Jonathan Tasini

Any vision of transportation should be driven by making Portland a more equal city where the people come first. Any vision of just transportation for the city of Portland means just housing in Portland.

Mike Marshall

… as we “rethink” downtown due to permanent changes in work place behaviors, we should consider creating car-free zones that foster community through walking and bike riding.

Laura Streib

Ideally we would have all electric vehicles, spaces for bike/wheels and walkers – buses & street cars that can get people moving to their destinations in a timely manner.

Will Mespelt

… expanding TriMet, particularly the light rail system. Part of what I would advocate for would be including bike infrastructure installation alongside improvement and expansion of public transportation. 

City Council District 3

Tiffany Koyama Lane

Children and their families.

Rex Burkholder

Quiet, calm, safe passage for all with maximum access through better land use planning and street design. 

Theo Hathaway Saner

… a forward-thinking, inclusive, and sustainable system that prioritizes the needs of its residents and the health of the environment.

Daniel Gilk

By liberalizing our zoning restrictions throughout the neighborhoods, we can 1) create more employment and commercial opportunities closer to where we live and 2) create the density that can better support bus and train lines.

Angelita Morillo

I want transportation in Portland to serve all Portlanders, regardless of age, income, disability status, or ability to drive. Transit should be an affordable and accessible way to get from anywhere in the city to any other place, and bicycling should be both a safe and efficient option to do so as well.

Jonathan Walker

It is not mathematically possible to really grow the city without endless sprawl or getting more people in it to transition to walking, transit, biking, and smaller electric transportation devices. To do that, we need to make transit safer, more convenient, and pleasant.

Matthew Thomas Anderson

Separation.

Daniel DeMelo

… we need to invest in visionary infrastructure that will continue to support Portland’s growth and development. This includes supporting the construction of the downtown MAX tunnel, which would significantly increase the capacity and efficiency of our light rail system. 

Philippe Knab

… creating a safe, sustainable, and accessible system that meets the needs of all residents. This includes expanding and improving bike infrastructure, such as adding more protected bike lanes and ensuring they are well-connected throughout the city.

Sandeep Bali

A fine healthy balance between cars, bikes, public transport. 

Jesse Cornett

… my vision is Vision Zero. We must aspire to stop the deaths. That means we will be far more walkable and bikeable than we are today.

Chris Flanary

Walkable neighborhoods and multi-modal transportation options are our way forward. Even folks who continue to drive will benefit. I would explore potential alternative uses of street space like the outdoor dining project or street fairs, but on a more permanent basis to create gathering spaces for communities. 

Luke Zak

I envision Portland thriving with a community-centered transportation system that is low-barrier, low-risk, and high-convenience that is so woven into the fabric of our city that using multimodal transportation and investing in its infrastructure is second-nature.

Council – District 4

Mike DiNapoli

Our city needs to refocus on our cities ‘Walkability’ and engineering neighborhoods to be inclusive of what’s needed inside of 15 minutes (without a car).

Olivia Clark

Traffic calming, more safety measures, get neighborhood associations actively involved in transportation safety. 

Ben Hufford

We need to move towards systems less dependent on single car/single driver use, and towards shared transportation resources.

Chad Lykins

My vision is to connect transportation, housing, economic development, and public safety in an integrated system that supports human flourishing.

Sarah Strawberry Silkie

I would like to see more park n ride lots so that people living in less dense areas can drive from where there is no public transit and then park and either bike, ride or walk in the more dense parts of the city.

Michael Trimble

I envision a fare free public transit (like Albuquerque) with all the MAX and street car lines along with more of the frequent trip bus lines running 24/7.

Eli Arnold

I believe making public transportation more appealing and creating paths like the Springwater Corridor are crucial.

Andra Vltavín

To turn almost all streets into communal gathering spaces and food-growing spaces. 

Eric Zimmerman

Safe, sensical, and standardized. I think for the immediate future we need to spend time focusing on improving safety and standardizing our streets and the various lanes available for use.

Lisa Freeman

I believe in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods that allow us to come together as communities and reliable, affordable public transit to take us anywhere else we want to go.

Bob Weinstein

My vision for transportation in Portland is to create a safe, equitable, and sustainable system that serves all residents while reducing our carbon footprint.

Mitch Green

I want to live in a Portland where… transit is free at the point of service, and there are bike-share depots at every major node… where the students walking home from Jackson Middle School don’t have to walk on the side of the road as drivers speed by… where there are no car drop off lines, because parents feel comfortable knowing that it’s safe to cycle and walk to and from school.

Mayor

Liv Østhus

To have access to transportation (including bikes) to be seen through the lens of class and class seen through the lens of environmental collapse (as in the lower class suffers climate crises more than the upper class). 

Durrell Javon Kinsey Bey

Economic Optimism is one of my campaign values and with that, regarding transportation I see TriMet and many other local small transportation businesses contributing to this Vision.

Keith Wilson

My vision for TriMet is 120 million boardings per year in 2030, double that of 2023. I also want a focus on micromobility. 

Carmen Rubio

I envision a city where people can get where they need with as little carbon, danger, and stress as possible, and as quickly as possible. I support free public transportation and want to see more and more high-frequency routes that can transfer riders wherever they need to go… Above all, I want a compassionate city where people truly see each other and each others’ needs — whether they traverse the city on a bike, foot, in a wheelchair, in an electric car or on a bus.


I think questions like this are interesting because it reveals which candidates are able to transcend a conventional response and really let loose with something visionary. In my opinion, Portlanders are hungry for a new vision and leaders who can not just explain it but have the chops to get us there. Did any of these candidates impress you with their answer to this one?

BikeLoud will post more responses in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for question #4 and see more 2024 election coverage here.

*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.

Thanks for reading.

BikePortland has served this community with independent community journalism since 2005. We rely on subscriptions from readers like you to survive. Your financial support is vital in keeping this valuable resource alive and well.

Please subscribe today to strengthen and expand our work.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

21 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Hampsten
David Hampsten
13 days ago

…I envision impossible pie-in-the-sky projects without the money to pay for them to demonstrate that I still know absolutely nothing about how transportation operates in Portland, built by a city full of engineers divested of any interest in the city they don’t actually reside in (and until recently I didn’t either), in a city that doesn’t actually operate a transit system but instead hires a regional agency to run our local services, with freeways operated and run by disinterested state legislators, adding a physically impossible mix of modes on too narrow sections of public right-of-way, and solve various social issues that we’ve never been able to solve in our long human history, just to get elected – second or third place is fine…

cct
cct
13 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Did you move back to Portland? Are you running? We need a knowledgable yet jaded candidate!

cct
cct
13 days ago
Reply to  cct

I was pulling David’s leg, but he illustrates what Lisa and I say we need: a candidate who understands all of that, and actually has some ideas of what can be done short and long term. Telling me ‘I will make 3 million people ride the bus each day’ is a joke without telling me HOW.

I will settle for a housecleaning of politicians and agency staffers who tell me “nothing can be done; get bent.”

Jose V
Jose V
13 days ago

I’m less interested in vision and more interested in the pragmatic restoration of livability in Portland.

Amit Zinman
10 days ago
Reply to  Jose V

How are those contradictory? You need a vision to restore livability in Portland.

Watts
Watts
13 days ago

Did any of these candidates impress you with their answer to this one?

Nope, though Keith Wilson’s stood out because it was something specific and clear. I’d be impressed if any of the candidates would explain how they would achieve (or at least work towards) their very nebulous feel-goody visions, or even what they meant in concrete terms.

No one said anything to suggest they had the chops to do anything (with the possible exception of Wilson who at least knows enough to say something specific and, theoretically at least, attainable; having a goal is the first step toward accomplishing one).

BB
BB
13 days ago

Wow, so much diversity of opinion… I can tell this new council idea is really going to make a difference.
So many new ideas and concrete answers, real out of the box thinking.
A revolution is coming, no doubt about it.
More excitement than I can take.

Randyzpdx
Randyzpdx
13 days ago
Reply to  BB

What do you expect when the questions are being asked by a one-issue advocacy group? Instead of all the pet PBOT projects, I’d like the city to refocus on basics like repaving all the crappy streets throughout town, that would benefit pedestrians, cyclists and transit as well as motorists; everybody deserves decent pavement for mobility, so you can check the equity box on that.

BB
BB
13 days ago
Reply to  Randyzpdx

I was being harsh, if you see the full answers at BikeLoud they are a lot more in depth but still platitudes mostly.
More than half mention more traffic enforcement which will probably disappoint many people here. The Horror!
Also a number mentioned getting homeless off bike corridors.
Rene is considered right wing for nonsense reasons on this forum, a lot of people considered as “progressives” are parroting his views.

Randyzpdx
Randyzpdx
13 days ago
Reply to  BB

Believe me, I got the sarcasm and snark in your original post and I totally agree with you. Seriously, how many projects like the outer East Glisan and East 162nd Street bike lanes, which virtually no one ever uses, and all the over-engineered, dangerous, inner city bikeways on streets which with a few exceptions were already good enough for anyone to bike on before PBOT got their hands on them and ruined them, do we have to put up with while we watch the other 99% of our transportation infrastructure crumble all around us? I used to be fairly enthusiastic about bike-specific infrastructure but after almost 40 years of observing PBOT fail to deliver over and over again, I’d be really happy right about now just for some good old fashioned maintenance of the rest of the transportation infrastructure in this town; poorly maintained streets are hazardous to all users, and even more so for cyclists and pedestrians than motorists.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
13 days ago

Portland has never lacked vision when it comes to transportation. Its difficult to see how these minor expressed differences among most of these visions are going to actually influence decisions by the city council and Mayor. Many of the visions seem to lack any clear idea of how to get there and some specifics sound anti-productive for the vision the person expresses.

For instance, the idea of citywide free transit service has been talked about for a very long time. The problem is “free” almost guarantees “worse” bus service. If a bus stops at every stop for people who don’t want to walk a couple blocks it is going to take much longer for people who actually need transit to get anywhere, It also costs a lot more to maintain frequent service, So you end up with slower, less frequent service than you would have had if you charged a small fare. Which means “choice” riders choose something else and you have a transit system that is only used by those who are transit dependent. Which is fine if you see transit as part of the safety net for those who can’t afford a car… I doubt that is really the vision of most of the people suggesting free transit.

That effect of making transit free is not really true so much for MAX and Streetcars, They stop at every stop anyway. Making those free is not going to cost anything beyond the need for more service for more riders. That will actually increase the quality by requiring more frequent service to avoid overfilled trains.

Randyzpdx
Randyzpdx
13 days ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

Actually, the real issue here before us right now is whether any of these candidates’ vague platitudes to the bike lobby elevate them above the other candidates in terms of either electability or the ability to actually drive policy if elected, and for that matter whether or not this is even a critical issue in this race. I would posit that you have to look a lot deeper into the candidates’ backgrounds and platforms to make any sort of informed decision; the one or two sentence sound bite presented here is essentially out of context and meaningless. Some of them, like Carmen Rubio, have an actual political record that can be parsed. And some notable candidates, particularly for mayor, didn’t even participate.

Watts
Watts
13 days ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

That will actually increase the quality by requiring more frequent service to avoid overfilled trains.

Unless providing the now-needed more frequent service costs more and, along with lost farebox revenue, requires cuts elsewhere.

There is no free lunch.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
12 days ago
Reply to  Watts

As I understand it, the net from the farebox is a minor source of operating revenue. But your point that serving more people will cost more at some point is correct.

Randyzpdx
Randyzpdx
12 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Not only is some sort of funding required for transit, but also for PBOT. Currently they lose revenue with each electric car purchase – no more gas tax revenue – and judging by my neighborhood, a lot of new electric cars are hitting the streets in this town. PBOT is already struggling and I don’t see the situation improving anytime in the near future, the city already imposes a pretty heavy tax load on its population and, as the saying goes, you can’t get get blood from a turnip. Somehow they need to figure out a way for all the new EV drivers to pay their share; EVs weight more than gas vehicles, they can run studded tires, and therefore their impacts on local transportation infrastructure are probably greater than for equivalent gas vehicles, so you can’t just give them a free pass just b/c they don’t generate local emissions.

donel courtney
donel courtney
13 days ago

Blah, blah blah. Where are the specifics other than free transit? Lord, the Max has basically been free since it was deemed un-social justice-ey to check fares and look how that turned out.

I also don’t think much is gonna change with this new crop. Rubio says she wants to see a “compassionate city where people truly see each other and each others’ needs”

How does she propose we legislate compassion? I mean what kind of platform is that?

AndrewP
AndrewP
12 days ago

ive stopped riding my bike since it was stolen in front of a busy Winco, locked.
I’ve stopped riding the Trimet trains because of the stickiness and stink from sub-humans…. despite trimets best effort.
Simply enforce the basic laws. If you don’t behave, leave or go to prison.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
11 days ago
Reply to  AndrewP

You can find small towns all over the country where you have no transit you need to share and can leave your bike unlocked and not have it stolen. Hardly anyone lives there… That’s why they are small.

Phil
Phil
11 days ago
Reply to  AndrewP

What are “sub-humans?”

Wooster
Wooster
11 days ago

FYI, that link to the full responses at the beginning goes to the wrong place. It directs to the answers to Question 2, rather than Question 3.