A member of the Portland Bureau of Transportation Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) has decided to resign from the committee for what she says is the agency’s, “inability to respond swiftly and proactively to the crises we are facing, the lack of creative thinking and solutions, and reasons why we need to see more action from the agency.”
Evelyn Amara Ferreira, a walking and sustainability advocate who’s also CEO and founder Earthen Exchange, has served three years of her four-year term on the PAC. In a letter sent Tuesday to other members of the committee (read it below), Amara Ferreira said, “This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’m finding it difficult to be an active participant on the committee and bring my full and generally optimistic self to the table.”
The move comes one week after members of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee excoriated the agency for its handling of a recent project where BAC members did not feel respectfully engaged in the decision-making process. [Read more…]
For an agency that once made traffic safety their number one priority, recent protests in support of Black Lives Matter have exposed a hard truth: Initiatives like Vision Zero are meaningless if they don’t address the root causes of racism, harassment and discrimination people of color face on our streets every day.
To their credit, the Portland Bureau of Transportation was working on this issue long before protests flared up in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In 2011 PBOT did an about face on the North Williams Avenue project when local residents raised concerns about gentrification and legacy of racism. They also changed course on a neighborhood greenway project in the King Neighborhood when some Black residents raised similar concerns, ultimately leaving it up to them to decide whether or not a diverter should be installed. [Read more…]
The current number one priority at Portland’s transportation bureau is a permit program that aims to help restaurants spread into the street so they can serve more people safely. The Healthy Business program is part of a larger Safe Streets Initiative that’s altering public right-of-way to improve safety and create more space for physically-distanced commerce.
By some accounts the program is working well. Since it was launched at the end of May, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) says they’ve issued well over 200 permits so far and rave reviews are coming in for the street dining plazas.
But is the program working for everyone? Are Black-owned businesses getting a fair shot? And is PBOT’s execution of the program living up to their pledge to be antiracist?
“At this juncture, either we will all be comfortable, or we’ll all be uncomfortable.”
— Millicent Williams, Deputy Director of PBOT
“We acknowledge that our institution has contributed immensely to the historic pain and burden you bear.”
— Chris Warner, PBOT Director
A poll commissioned by the Portland Bureau of Transportation found that a large majority of Portlanders don’t think widening roads is the answer to congestion and that the agency needs simpler messaging and a clearer vision. [Read more…]