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

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.

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A look back at the transportation legacy of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

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.

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Mapps defeats Eudaly for seat on Portland City Council

Welcome to council, Mingus Mapps.
(Source: Mapps Campaign)

Incumbent Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has lost her seat on City Council. Mingus Mapps, a self-described “daily bike commuter” since the 1980s has won 56% of the vote to Eudaly’s 43% with just over 78% of the votes recorded.

Eudaly, commissioner-in-charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, enjoyed broad support among transportation reform advocates. Her Rose Lane Project, which has already installed some bus-priority lanes around the city, was a signature accomplishment.

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Police chief, union leader warn budget cuts would end Traffic Division

Traffic Division headquarters in St. Johns.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The head of the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Police Association union have sent out dire warnings about impacts to law enforcement capabilities if a proposal (PDF) for $18 million in budget cuts are passed by council next week. Chief Chuck Lovell and PPA President Daryl Turner have many concerns about the cuts including what they say would lead to the end of the Traffic Division — the unit that issues about 90% of all traffic tickets, responds to transportation-related concerns and investigates serious injury and fatal crashes.

As we shared yesterday, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly have laid out the cuts as part of their ongoing efforts to rein in a “bloated” budget and “rethink” policing — which they feel isn’t in line with Portland values and has become overly-aggressive and militarized.

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Transportation advocates rally around Commissioner Eudaly as challenger gains momentum

Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is in trouble.

As Willamette Week reported today, she’s well behind challenger Mingus Mapps in both polling and fundraising and there’s a very real possibility she won’t earn a second term on council.

This reality has set off alarm bells within Portland’s transportation reform circles. As the commissioner-in-charge of the transportation bureau, Eudaly has led several very popular initiatives. Most notably her office created the Rose Lane Project which has the stated goal of reducing commute times for people of color. Eudaly’s vision of streets as places for much more than just car and truck users is also evident in the Safe Streets Initiative, a major undertaking to make public right-of-way more accessible and safer for vulnerable road users and small business customers.

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PBOT splits with Portland Police Bureau on crosswalk law enforcement program

Former Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and a PBOT staffer stand with former PPB Traffic Division Captain David Hendrie at a crosswalk enforcement mission in 2013.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has ended a 15-year partnership with the Portland Police Bureau that centered around the enforcement of Oregon’s crosswalk law.

Since 2005 PBOT has conducted “pedestrian crosswalk education and enforcement actions” with the PPB. But in recent years conversations around the enforcement of traffic laws and concerns about racial profiling by police officers have intensified.

At a meeting of the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee last night, PBOT Traffic Safety Section Manager Dana Dickman said City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly asked the bureau to stop working with police.

“There had been concerns about secondary violations,” Dickman told the committee. “People were being pulled over for failure-to-yield, but during the stop they are cited for lack of insurance or a suspended license. And then the citations rack up… There was a concern we are potentially bringing people into a much more serious situation, impacting them financially, and bringing them into a legal situation in a way we didn’t intend… Our commissioner and community members felt that was potentially punitive.”

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Portland’s new business program will permit in-street commerce

“Plans… are in full swing. We are designing a permit process that will allow not just restaurants but bars, retail, and personal service businesses to access the right-of-way.”
— Margaux Weeke, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office

We’ll be seeing more of this soon.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Candidates on Bikes: Mingus Mapps, Chloe Eudaly, Seth Woolley, Keith Wilson and Sam Adams

Left to right: Mingus Mapps, Chloe Eudaly, Seth Woolley, Sam Adams, Keith Wilson.
(Photos: Respective campaigns)

It’s been a tough pill for me to swallow, but the truth is cycling just doesn’t command the same attention in local political circles that it used to. With so many people struggling to put a roof over their head and all the systemic injustice and inequality that has become even more glaring in recent years, it’s understandable that personal mobility doesn’t merit as much attention as it did a decade ago.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t ask candidates for local office what they think about it!

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