Improvisational comedy has one fundamental rule, and it’s a rule I believe our walking, biking, transit and Vision Zero advocates need to adopt: Yes, AND… To keep a scene moving, you learn to take your partner’s suggestion and expand upon it rather than shut it down or change the topic.
The thing is, when talking to the media, and even when talking amongst ourselves, we are often asked to defend the merits of one safety or infrastructure project (although I will say that all projects should be first and foremost safety projects) against another. For example, on Think Out Loud, the host pitted the BikeLOUDPDX representative against the PBOT representative, specifically asking about the $6 million project for downtown versus putting diverters on Greenways or improvements in East Portland. When Chris and I were interviewed about the launch of Vision Zero USA, reporters asked us if we were working against the BTA. Why? Because it makes for a more interesting news story.
We are on the same team, people. When we are asked to argue which project should be funded first, we are pitted against each other and it weakens us.
We will no longer beg for transportation scraps. We are the leaders in making Portland (and Oregon, and America) more equitable, by making walking, biking, and transit safer and more accessible. We are trying to make Portland better for businesses, by making it easier to recruit top talent, and making business districts more attractive by reducing car congestions and increasing the presence of people on the street. We are fighting to reduce traffic as our population growth explodes. Reducing traffic makes it easier for freight to move around. We want clean air and safe routes to schools for our children. Say it with us:
Yes! We want protected bike lanes downtown. And, we want meaningful, frequent diversion on the Neighborhood Greenways. And we want sidewalks in East Portland. And we want more frequent bus service! And we want the killing to stop! Yes, And!
It’s time to stop fighting; it’s time to say Yes, And to each other. We all know what needs to happen to make Portland a better place for all to get around, and it’s not expanding auto capacity. It’s making our streets safe to bike and walk on. All of the streets. Yes, And!