Concerns aside, Metro Council gives ODOT $129 million for I-5 Rose Quarter project

I-5 from the Flint Avenue Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite a majority of Metro Council expressing concerns about the future of a nearly $800 million project that will expand the I-5 freeway through the Rose Quarter, only two out of seven members voted against giving the Oregon Department of Transportation $129 million to continue working on it.

The 5-2 vote came at a meeting just hours after the Oregon Transportation Commission gave ODOT permission to move forward with the project without the rigorous environmental analysis called for by hundreds of Portlanders, many organizations and key local elected officials including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. On the Metro Council agenda was a resolution to greenlight funding that allows ODOT to do two things: Purchase “right-of-way” parcels in the Rose Quarter where they’ll stage future construction equipment; and continue to pay expenses related to project development, outreach and preliminary engineering, and so on. (It’s the same funding passed by a Metro advisory committee last week.

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Metro Council unanimously backs mountain biking trails north of Forest Park

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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Portland’s regional government unanimously approved a plan to allow mountain biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area Thursday in a session that gushed with praise.

“This project took a lot more work than I thought it was going to,” said Metro Councilor Sam Chase, whose district includes the natural area just north of Forest Park, to chuckles around the room. “We have really come to a fantastic place.”

The vote came despite organized objections from a cluster of people who live nearby, in some cases with property immediately bordering the public land. As we reported last week, some of them held a protest outside Metro’s headquarters to argue that allowing mountain biking trails in the natural area would do undue harm to local wildlife.

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Bike Walk Vote will host ‘meet the candidates’ event Sunday at Velo Cult

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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Bob Stacey (Metro Council), Sarah Iannarone (Portland Mayor), and Sam Chase (Metro Council) have all been endorsed by Bike Walk Vote.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bike Walk Vote, the political arm of Portland’s transportation reform movement, wants to get you some face time with this year’s city council, county commission and Metro council candidates.

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Politics and pedaling at ‘Bike Town Hall’ and ‘Beers and Bikes’ events

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A pair of bike advocates are hosting
a fundraiser for Metro Councilor
Sam Chase, shown here in
Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two upcoming events are perfect examples of how bicycling plays an important role in local, regional, and statewide politics.

Tonight at Lucky Lab in northwest Portland (1945 NW Quimby), a pair of bike advocates are hosting a fundraiser for Metro Councilor Sam Chase, who won the race for Rex Burkholder’s old Council seat back in May 2012. Chase was part of a delegation from Portland that recently traveled to the Netherlands on a bicycle study tour sponsored by Bikes Belong/Green Lane Project. This event is being hosted by Gerik Kranksy and Jenn Dice, both of whom joined Chase on that trip (disclaimer: I was there too). While Kransky and Dice are both high-profile professional bike advocates (with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Bikes Belong respectively), they are hosting this event as private citizens and not representing their employers.

Councilor Chase has returned from the Netherlands with a new understanding for how valuable bicycling can be for our city and communities and he’s poised to be a great future leader on the issue. Tonight’s event is being billed as an informal chance to meet Chase and share your perspectives on bicycling. “Sam wants to learn more about what changes would make Portland an even better place to ride a bike,” reads the flyer, “Great guy, pro bike, let’s get together to celebrate and support Sam.”

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