Portland, BIKETOWN, and ODOT

Portland, we love you. And we’re so happy that you’ve finally figured out bike share. And we’re so disappointed in you, and so very tired of biking through the wet concrete of public process and institutional bureaucracy, and of the lack of real, progressive vision, the kind of vision that could make this city great. We need a city council and a mayor that move us into the 21st century. BIKETOWN is a great start, and we need vision to improve our public transit, our pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, and to reduce traffic congestion and speed. It is telling that a group of local bike activist has worked for well over a year to encourage PBOT to install a couple of diverters on one of the city’s main bike routes.

It’s not only lack of local vision and leadership that hurts us (and I know that on this day of the BIKETOWN announcement there will be much push back against me claiming a lack of vision), it is the continuously abhorrent behavior of the Oregon Department of Transportation. That the head of ODOT refuses to adopt Vision Zero astounds me. It makes no sense at all that the person in charge of the lives and safety of all people using our roads REFUSES to work towards eliminating traffic deaths. The toxic, deadly leadership at ODOT directly inhibits any progress we can make at a local level. The proposed removal of a bike line at SE 26th and Clinton is Portland BOT’s capitulation to the state, so that they can install a signal to make it safer for people to cross a state highway that runs through the middle of our city. A bike lane that leads directly to a high school is slated to be removed because it’s not safe? When the evidence points to it being safer than no bike lane? This is not compromise, this is a deal with the devil, plain and simple.

This proposal moves Portland in the wrong direction. We need to improve the safety of our roads for ALL USERS. Once again, we need to tell Gov. Kate Brown to change the leadership at ODOT, before more lives are ruined. People are dying. It is time for our leaders to lead, and time for ODOT to adopt Vision Zero.