Bill adds ‘humans’ to legal definition of taxable bicycle in Oregon

Posted on January 22nd, 2021 at 5:08 pm.

Screen grab of LC 2448. Words in bold are additions to existing law.

Here’s something light to end the week…[Read more…]

Carfree streets, EVs for all, smarter funding: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty shares her ‘smart transit’ vision

Posted on January 22nd, 2021 at 10:46 am.

Hardesty envisions more scenes like this downtown, where people have more space on the streets.

“I believe life will be radically different post-Covid and our planning should reflect our new reality.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, city commissioner

At a city council work session Thursday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the four other commissioners had an informal and wide-ranging discussion about how to respond to the multiple crises facing our city. During the meeting, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty described how she wants to use her leadership of the transportation bureau to kickstart the local economy and face the climate crisis. Hardesty called it a vision for “smart transit”.

The work session was led by Dr. Markisha Smith from the Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights. Each commissioner was asked to share their opinion about the most urgent issues council should focus on in the next 12-18 months.

The first thing Hardesty mentioned was her vision for more carfree streets we reported on earlier this month. Hardesty elaborated on that idea (first shared her policy director Derek Bradley at a Bicycle Advisory Committee January 12th), but she didn’t stop there.

About one hour and 15 minutes into the two-hour session (you can watch it here), Hardesty laid out four transportation-related goals.

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She tied a vision for carfree streets downtown to the climate crisis, economic rebirth and changing behaviors related to the Covid pandemic:

Jo Ann Hardesty
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“When I think about smart transit I think about, as we are attempting to reach our climate goals, are there opportunities to support small restaurants across the city by closing off some streets to auto traffic? Is it possible when we are in rebuild mode coming out of Covid, to really think about what would a carfree downtown look like? I say this because I think that there is this misperception that one day we’re going to go back to business as usual and that Covid will be behind us, and we’re going to flip the switch and life will be as it was prior to Covid. I think that there’s a lot of people that believe that and I am not one of them. I believe life will be radically different post-Covid, and our planning should reflect our new reality… Is there an opportunity to create international districts in different parts of the city that people can access for food and goods and services that are not tied to people getting into automobiles?”

Hardesty then mentioned her desire to boost electric vehicle access:

“I also want to think about how we create opportunities for electric vehicle infrastructure in different parts of the city so that we can ensure that BIPOC community members have access to both building it and actually being able to take advantage of using it.”

Her next two goals were related to funding. The first was about federal funds:

“I want to make sure we are identifying federal resources that traditionally have been all about freeway expansions. I’m looking for federal resources to support a climate resilient transportation department that is really focused on green issues as compared to freeway expansions like we’re so accustomed to.”

The second was the concern that PBOT’s budget is closely tied to driving and there’s still no substitute to gas taxes and parking-related revenues — both of which were trending down before the pandemic hit:

“[I am interested in] trying to identify new funding opportunities to create a smart transit system for PBOT that is not dependent on people driving automobiles, and not dependent on people parking at parking garages [PBOT owns and operates several of them downtown]. We are facing a $40 million budget deficit because normal funding mechanisms have been impacted by A) Covid and B) should be impacted by our climate justice and resiliency goals.”

The facilitator then asked other commissioners to respond.

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Commissioner Mingus Mapps said, “I generally support this vision. I think it’s innovative and I’m happy to work with a lot of these things.”

Commissioner Carmen Rubio said, “I also support it. It’s in line with a lot of our goals, particularly around equity.”

Commissioner Dan Ryan was much less enthusiastic: “It felt very connected to the climate crisis, even though it was stated as transportation. But that’s what I kept hearing. It’s not in my top three or four, but I respect what I just heard.”

Mayor Wheeler responded with, “I appreciated it. It sounded more like the answer to a broader question. It sounded tactical. I think it is in alignment with our stated goals around climate action and transportation equity. But I would see that as one of multiple strategies that are fulfilling the larger objective.” Then he added, “I want to say this: I actually love innovative and visionary thinking and I appreciate that. It’s a good vision.”

With new leadership in City Hall and multiple crises facing Portland, now is a great time for a new transportation vision and more urgency on the topic in general — something Portland hasn’t for years. Hardesty seems to understand the opportunity and appears to be unafraid to try and meet it. As she laid out her idea to use streets as gathering places in a way that would help our economy rebound in a Covid-safe way, Hardesty said, “That’s one of the exciting things about having transportation at this moment.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Two former PBOT staffers take jobs with Biden Administration

Posted on January 21st, 2021 at 4:51 pm.

Left: Maurice Henderson in 2016 (Photo by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland) Right: Irene Marion in 2019 (Photo by Oregon Walks)

[Read more…]

Amanda Gorman’s words help America turn the page on Inauguration Day

Posted on January 20th, 2021 at 10:21 am.

Amanda Gorman at today’s inauguration in Washington D.C.

[Read more…]

Bike-friendly former Mayor Sam Adams could be headed back to City Hall

Posted on January 7th, 2021 at 3:46 pm.

Wheeler and Adams working together?
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

Rep. Karin Power will bring new progressive voice to state legislative committees

Posted on January 5th, 2021 at 4:38 pm.

Rep. Power’s Twitter profile pic.

A former southeast Portland resident who publicly opined about what downtown would be like if we tore out Interstate 5 has been named to two key state legislative committees that oversee transportation.

Representative Karin Power — a Democrat whose district (41) includes the City of Milwaukie and Oak Grove, as well as the Sellwood, Eastmoreland, Westmoreland and Brentwood-Darlington neighborhoods — is now a member of the Joint Interstate 5 Bridge and Joint Transportation committees. She was appointed by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek in a memo finalized this morning (PDF).

The Joint Transportation Committee is an influential body that oversees all major transportation legislation. This is the group that debated and molded the state’s current $5.6 billion transportation funding bill, HB 2017. The I-5 Bridge Joint Committee will play a crucial role in the resurrection of the Columbia River Crossing megaproject, which is now known as the I-5 Bridge Replacement Program.
[Read more…]

Jo Ann Hardesty is Portland’s new transportation commissioner

Posted on December 28th, 2020 at 1:20 pm.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty at a protest in downtown Portland on July 17th, 2020.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

Street Trust will seek amendment to Oregon ‘Bike Bill’ on law’s 50th anniversary

Posted on December 15th, 2020 at 12:14 pm.

Lawmakers signing the Bike Bill in 1971.

When Oregon’s landmark “Bike Bill” passed in 1971, America was in the throes of a major bike boom. 50 years later a group of Portland bike advocates think our current cycling resurgence is the right time to update it

The nonprofit Street Trust has announced plans to seek an amendment to ORS 366.514. This law states “reasonable amounts” of the State Highway Fund must be spent by the Oregon Department of Transportation, “to provide footpaths and bicycle trails… wherever a highway, road or street is being constructed, reconstructed or relocated.” That “reasonable amount” is further defined as a minimum of 1% of the Highway Fund each fiscal year.[Read more…]

Outgoing Commissioner Eudaly shares candid remarks, offers advice to cycling advocates

Posted on December 9th, 2020 at 11:42 am.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday night. (Via Zoom)

Outgoing City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly addressed the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) last night in a wide-ranging address that touched on the death of her father, expressed regret for not pushing cycling further, offered advice for cycling advocates, and much more. Eudaly, who took over as transportation commissioner in August 2018, lost her re-election bid last month.

During her time at the helm of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Eudaly was a polarizing figure in cycling circles (and beyond) and her remarks last night likely won’t do anything to change that. As PBOT commissioner she spoke forcefully about the negative impacts of cars and drivers in our city, fought against an unpopular freeway expansion project, stood up for Vision Zero, and pushed a progressive transportation agenda that included the “Rose Lane” bus priority program. But Portlanders seem to be split on whether she did enough to move the needle on transportation reform. Road fatalities are at a record level, cycling and transit use are down, and our road user culture is as toxic and scary as it’s ever been.[Read more…]

A look back at the transportation legacy of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

Posted on December 4th, 2020 at 11:42 am.

Eudaly at the launch of Adaptive Biketown event in 2017.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is on the agenda of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) Tuesday night. It will be the final time the BAC hears from the commissioner-in-charge of the transportation bureau and an opportunity for her to cement a legacy. When it comes to cycling, many of us will likely recall a tenure that delivered a lot of promise and solid progress on key issues, but missed out on cycling-specific opportunities.

Here’s a look back at Eudaly’s time as transportation commissioner.

Despite being seated as commissioner in January 2017, Eudaly wasn’t given the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) portfolio by Mayor Ted Wheeler until August 2018. That gave a political newcomer just over two years to steer the PBOT ship, a rather large vessel with over 1,000 employees and an annual budget of $570 million. PBOT is one of the most difficult agencies to oversee not just because of its size, but because how we get around intersects with so many other controversial and emotionally fraught issues such as racism, policing, income/geographic equity, and an entrenched resistance to change the driving-centric status quo. Eudaly also took the helm of PBOT at a time when the transportation issue carried much less political heft than in past eras.

Given this context, Eudaly handled the assignment well. She (and her Chief of Staff Marshall Runkel and Policy Director Jamey Duhamel) plunged into the topic head-first by participating in the widely-respected Portland Traffic and Transportation class at Portland State University. Eudaly also proved early on that just because she didn’t have a deep transportation policy background, she would not be afraid to go up against those who did. [Read more…]