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27% of PBOT budget to keep streets safe for our kids: Thank you, Sam

Urbanmamas_katie_alley
 
It's all in a headline, isn't it? That's something I've learned from my two decades as a journalism junkie. And then there's the old saying, "statistics lie." I worked on Wall Street and for a bank selling loans to other banks -- I know from long practice doing and analyzing other people doing so, you can get numbers to say whatever you want them to.

So the above is the headline I'd like to see on Oregonian writer Joseph Rose's piece on how Sam Adams and the Portland City Council decided to spend the "uncommitted budget" -- in other words, the part of budget that's discretionary. It's funded by gas taxes and parking revenue, and makes up about 25% of the overall transportation capital improvement projects funding. He went instead with "Portland Mayor Sam Adams boosts funding for bike projects, but now there's less for paving streets" as a headline and then, in the first few paragraphs, described Adams' statements about the funding (which, for bike projects, works out to 17% of discretionary funds, or 6% of overall CIP funds) at the Alice Awards as having "boasted about what he had done for bicycles." Rose's piece kept up the rabble-rousing bent: "Portland quietly boosted the amount of uncommitted transportation funding it spends on bike projects from just 1 percent to 17 percent – or $2.8 million – in the budget adopted last June. Meanwhile, it slashed the amount allocated to motor vehicle projects by 22 percent... Coming out of the recession, the budget is still bruised. Pothole complaints are up. Nearly 60 miles of the city's streets remain unpaved. By allocating 17 times more of that funding on building bikeways, Adams has left no doubt that he wants more commuters on bicycles."

There are many, many things on which I'd love to see Portland spend its money. And while I understand that Portland's roads are pot-hole filled and it's not nearly easy enough to drive 40 MPH everywhere you want to go, well, when it comes down to it I value the safety of our kids and older citizens more than I do speed. Spending 6% of our budget on bicycle projects (which improve traffic safety, speeds, pollution, noise, and long-term environmental costs for everyone who uses our roads and even those who don't) and another 21% for pedestrian projects (which make our communities more livable and make our citizens healthier and happier -- attracting businesses and invigorating the retail climate and wooing middle- and upper-class new residents), even though these funds come from gas taxes and parking revenue, seems like a sensible and worthwhile investment in a safe and sustainable transportation mix.

It's true, these taxes and fees are paid by people who are burning fossil fuels (and a few in electric vehicles, conceivably powered by wind or solar) to get around our city. But it's certainly not the only situation in which taxes paid by one group are used as a wide benefit for all groups. I'll just start with tobacco and alcohol taxes, and travel forward to business licenses, and how about income taxes? Those should be used only for people who have jobs, yes?

It's short-sighted and greedy and silly to say, "these taxes are paid by x people and must only benefit x people when they are engaging in x activities." But that's what the tone of Rose's piece and most of the angry commenters on OregonLive, those angry callers and writers and pitchfork-wielders, say. The point of paying taxes and fees is to support a civic and safe society in which every citizen -- no matter his transport mode, whether he is an alcoholic or a teetotaller, a smoker or a clean-air breather, a vegan or an omnivore, an atheist or a street preacher -- is permitted to partake of the benefits of these funds.

Let me tell you something I learned from a PBOT employee. For both children and older people, peripheral vision is quite a bit less acute than for adults in the prime of their lives. These two groups also tend to have poorer judgment about traffic speeds and their own speed and invincibility. They are thus much more vulnerable to auto-on-pedestrian and auto-on-bicyclist accidents. All accidents, but most importantly these accidents in which vulnerable individuals are gravely injured or killed, decrease when bicycle and pedestrian projects go in to streets.

Yes, it is eternally true that bicycle and pedestrian projects will decrease speeds for motorists. This is something that I -- even were I to shed my family biking evangelist skin, even were I to break both my legs and be unable to walk -- would be o.k. with. I like slow vehicles; it's so much harder to kill people with your car (even people in another car) if you're going 20 MPH than 35 MPH or 45 MPH or however fast Portlanders believe they may drive down the street in front of my house.

When I was 11, my mother was driving all of my siblings and I to Wisdom, Montana from our home 40 miles away. We were going down a very empty stretch of road when another driver passed us, leaning a little across the line and going at least 80. We turned around to watch him as his car drifted all the way across the lane and crashed into the ditch, spectacularly. We turned around and drove back, me flagging other motorists down to help and my mother, trained as a nurse, trying to help.

He died a few days later in a hospital room in Dillon, another 30 miles away. This was not the only death on the road I'd see; I saw a motorcyclist fresh off a crash in a North Carolina intersection (dead); I saw a Miata wheels up in the middle of a Virginia highway (the motorists, dead); I've driven past many more whose fates I never found out. Each time, something chilled in my rib cage and wouldn't ever, ever let me go. Motor vehicle accidents kill thousands of Americans each year. If we drove more slowly, lives would be saved. This is as indisputable as anything can possibly be. But initiatives that slow traffic are unpopular, even reviled. Why? Really, why?

I'd happily pay more in taxes if I thought they would go toward bicycle facilities and sidewalks and medians filled with trees and flowers. But in a civic society, everybody gets to share in the pot, and roads cost way more than bicycle paths; just like schools cost more than community centers and prisons cost more than neighborhood organizations. We don't get to all demand that money gets spend in line with our individual values.

But that doesn't mean I can't thank the people who are moving the needle toward safety, toward livability, toward a city that makes me happier and more likely to live long enough to see the day when we complain because bicycles aren't getting 75% of the budget, even though they're 80% of the road share. A girl can dream.

Thank Sam too:

Comments

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Hear Hear! Such a great response! Thanks Sarah for sharing your thoughts.

Great post, Sarah.

In theory I think bikes are a great idea. I live on a bike route street and I like watching them go by. But I hate crossing the street BECAUSE of the bikes. They come up with no warning and they don't watch out much for pedestrians. I think many bicyclists have an attitude of entitlement and of self righteousness. And most are not very respectful of pedestrians. They come up behind me on walkways and nearly run me over. They DEMAND that I get out of the way even when they are riding on sidewalks.

I think part of the problem is also that bikes are hard to start and stop so bicyclists avoid that as much as possible and that makes them difficult to share the road and the walkways with.

Donaleen, I couldn't have said it better. I do not drive my car on the weekends at all. On weekends, I am a pedestrian and a bike rider. I live near the Springwater trail. As a pedestrian, I am extra careful when I see a group of bikers riding through the neighborhood to the trail. Too many of them have the attitude of "everybody else needs to share the road with ME".
Seems like the group with the least respect for the pedestrians tends to be adults riding without children and wearing their silly "live strong" type bike clothes. I have nothing against the cycling attire. It is just an observation - some people are so serious about bike riding, they don't pay attention to pedestrians. The serious ones about biking tend to be serious about it in every aspect, including clothing. That is all I am saying.

But, at the same time, I am grateful about having the trail and having bike lanes in Portland.

My husband and I love to walk the esplanade, its a lovely walk after a meal downtown. I can't tell you how many times I've been nearly sheared by a biker. And once, crossing the Hawthorne bridge, I was struck down by a bike. I had bruises for weeks. They just have no respect for walkers.

When I drive, bikes can be unpredictable and appear in the corner of my mirrors with no notice. And many times there's no dedicated bike lane so you are forced to slow down or go around a biker. The combination of cars and bikes in streets is dangerous.

This post is well-written and I support the thinking behind it.

However, as someone who lives on one of the blocks that make up the 59 miles of unpaved roads in Portland, I do think that paving these roads is a serious safety issue in our city. I have a 3-year-old who can't ride his trike or push his "mower" down our block at all, because unpaved roads also don't have sidewalks. And I don't want to drive 40 MPH down my block; I want to drive 15 MPH down my block. In reality, I can't drive down it at all. I drive down one of the parallel blocks and then u-turn onto my street so that I drive the shortest distance possible from the intersection to my house.

I, too, am grateful for the bike trails and bike lanes, but I think the first priority would be bringing the condition of our streets to "livable."

I agree with Joanna. I'd like to see our transportation funds extend livable streets to all parts of our city. "Livable" for all our citizens, including those with impaired vision or mobility. I support bike projects, but I'd prioritize giving everyone sidewalks first. Can you imagine being elderly or in a wheelchair and trying to navigate one of those potholed, no-sidewalks, dirt streets? There are several near me, and while I don't live on one, I cringe whenever I bike or drive or walk past one. Even if the city can't afford to pave those streets, I think they should build sidewalks there and fill the potholes in the same way that they fill potholes on the paved streets. I also find it unacceptable that some very busy streets in our area have no sidewalks. Grrrr.

So the upshot is that I appreciate the bike projects, and I use bike boulevards regularly, but I think the city owes a basic standard of access to all its citizens and shouldn't concentrate its expenditures on minority groups until it has met those basic needs.

Thank you Joanna and j! As a mom whose kid must walk in the road on a busy SE street to get to and from mass transit to take her to school because we have no sidewalks, the prioritizing of bike lanes over pedestrian safety really sticks in my craw.

And illuminates as the original post does, the wide chasm between the have and have nots and political will in this City. Whether we're talking bike lanes, sidewalks, school choice or school bonds nowhere is it clearer than in this microcosm of like-minded mamas that there are two separate Portlands.

I agree with Joanna, j, et al, about unimproved streets. I live on one and in a neighborhood of many others, and strongly object to PBOT's policy of forcing the neighboring homeowners to shoulder the entire cost of putting in sidewalks and paving these streets. I also strongly support biking and walking, and think that bikers and pedestrians would benefit from the City spending money to pay for bringing all streets up to safety standards.

"And illuminates as the original post does, the wide chasm between the have and have nots and political will in this City. Whether we're talking bike lanes, sidewalks, school choice or school bonds nowhere is it clearer than in this microcosm of like-minded mamas that there are two separate Portlands "

Hear, hear.

Joanna and ProtestMama, I don't think there was any prioritization of bikes over walkers: the pedestrian projects include $7 million in "Sidewalk Deficiencies Infill", and $169K in "Safe Routes to Schools" (which I believe is crosswalk improvements and sidewalks near schools). that's a lot more than will be spent for bikes. and while the increase in bike budget comes from the percentage devoted to unpaved roads, there's no evidence that unpaved roads won't be paved; there's still 73% of the capital improvement budget left for roads (50% of the discretionary funds).

as for the concern about unsafe bicyclists, I too see every day the spandex-clad speedsters running lights or hurtling through stop signs or riding on the sidewalk (probably b/c they've just been near-sheared by cars in the streets). I surely don't support this behavior. but if I had to choose, dangerous drivers or dangerous bicyclists, I'd pick the bicyclists every time; they kill far fewer people, and while a few pedestrian/bicyclist accidents may result in painful bruises, I'll bet you don't have someone in your family who has suffered an extreme and near-crippling injury from a bike/pedestrian accident. my mother spent years on bed rest during my child hood thanks to an inner ear injury suffered in a car accident. that's just for starters.

as more money goes into bicycle improvements, the people who are added to the bike pool won't be the speedsters in yellow spandex -- those people will be on their bicycles no matter what. the people who are reluctant to bike right now are the families and the slow riders and the ones who don't want to smell sweaty when they reach their destination; the timid ones, who probably won't be shearing you on the esplanade.

I can't and don't wish to apologize for the bicyclists who treat less vulnerable users without respect. I surely don't wish to be associated with them. but I believe that distracted drivers (which many of us are, even with the best of intentions and the most courteous of attitudes) are far more dangerous than aggressive bicyclists.

I too have dealt with my fair share of puddle-ridden and frightening streets and would, were I to have my druthers, remove lots of funding for social programs that don't have a direct benefit (like the one in the WW piece -- I just read that -- for encouraging cross-cultural community) and fix potholes.

I can't believe, when it comes down to it, though, that dirt roads like some of those pictured in the WW piece are actually dangerous. I've walked, run and biked on most of those roads and rather like them (and have never had any cars driving fast enough down them to present a danger of anything other than muddy splashes).

I just realized, after reading the WW piece, that the first part of my comment is incorrect. I see now that many unpaved roads will be left as-is. apologies.

I should clarify, too.

I make use of bike improvements. I recognize that calling them "bike improvements" is a misnomer, since they benefit many other classes of transportation users. But . . .

I would provide safe sidewalks and appropriately paved streets (graded gravel if not asphalt) everywhere before I tackled bike improvements anywhere. Once everyone has safe sidewalks, then bike improvements should be the next priority.

To me, this is like defending part of the city not having running water by pointing out what a good job you're doing with high-speed internet access in another part.

I recently drove down the section of Cully Blvd that got redone. There are bioswales, a protected bike lane AND sidewalks. And they finally fixed that ridiculous 5 way intersection that had previously only had a blinking red.

This section of Cully is NOT a wealthy neighborhood. And I am thrilled that there are finally safe sidewalks there so that people can walk to the darn grocery store even with kids in a stroller without fearing for their lives. Yes, there is also a bike lane, but it was done without taking out parking, without losing sidewalks, and without losing traffic lanes. I think it was well worth it for so many people who live in apartments along that route & could not get to the grocery store safely.

Cafemama-
"as for the concern about unsafe bicyclists, I too see every day the spandex-clad speedsters running lights or hurtling through stop signs or riding on the sidewalk (probably b/c they've just been near-sheared by cars in the streets)."

To be honest, it's often the non-spandex clad, non-helmet wearing cyclists that I see riding unsafely...I say, feel free to wear spandex if it works for you, just do your best to follow the rules...and be respectful of pedestrians, cars, other bikers alike...

I certainly can't argue that if I were hit by a car that it would be worse than being hit by a bicycle. HOWEVER, as a pedestrian (I do most of my errands on foot) it is bicycles that are the problem for me nine out of ten times. Cars don't generally ride on the sidewalk. Cars stop at intersections when they should (most of the time).

And walking requires less equipment than bicycles, if you want to talk about carbon footprint.

As to more sidewalks, I agree. I know there are parts of Portland that are woefully missing sidewalks. This while they spent $600 per painting of some bicycle thingy every block on my bike lane street. No idea what that graphic even means.

"wooing middle- and upper-class new residents"
...to further displace historical residents, especially those of color in the east side neighborhoods. If you look at the recent numbers, middle and lower middle class and poor people are being pushed out and only upper class are making head way so your wish is coming true. Those unpaved roads are charming if you don't happen to live on one and have the constant mud and filth and dust and danger in your life and home. And biking is grand if you're able bodied with time and disposable income and flexibility. The classism and racism and ablism sometimes displayed in these threads really bums me out. Say you're happy about bike paths because you love to bike, that's great but please don't try and cast it as part of some virtuous cycle that benefits anyone but you and your ilk because it's simply not the case.

To this last anon.. that was a great post! Thank you.

I grew up on a gravel road riddled with potholes in Aloha and never felt downtrodden or endangered. Actually, it enabled all the kids to play outdoors and safely come and go on bikes and on foot even without sidewalks since the vehicles that came through were rare and drove slowly. I can't believe so many people are jumping on this post for expressing appreciation towards a minor budgetary allocation towards bike-friendly improvements. Sure, some cyclists are unsafe--does that mean we should not encourage cycling in this city?! People will gripe about anything!!

I am perpetually stumped at the logic that labels as "elitist" a mode of transportation that, once you are set up with a bike (tons of used options out there) and a basic knowledge of how to fix it, is exponentially cheaper than driving or even Tri Met as their rates escalate.

Yes, gentrification has happened, and as a resident of inner NE I am dismayed at the recent report of the extent of the role Portland city development money went toward making this happen. And surely, bike planning has been part of that development.

But there are also great organizations like the Community Cycling Center and Safe Routes to School that are putting money and energy into biking education and outreach to benefit diverse communities. [for an example, see the recent Oregonian article about Rigler school: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/05/pdx_green_empowering_kids_via.html]

To my mind, a rigid attachment to the critique that only middle- and upper-class folks bike and therefore benefit by bike infrastructure itself perpetuates the classism and racism others have called out.

Your second paragraph says it all. Thank you. Upper class, whites have disproportionally benefited from the bike infrastructure changes and for you to attempt to paint the critique itself as classist or racist is a well worn attempt at silencing that is both transparent and baseless. Like I said, say you love to bike and this serves your community but lay off the holier than thou preaching over riding a bike when there are kids with no sidewalks and people in a 21st century city without a paved street.

I am with the previous poster. My kid goes to Beach and we have a large number on clearly non-middle class families on bike. I also see a fair amount of riders who do not at all meet the spandex, helmeted, middle class description using the our neighborhood greenway.

Am I missing something? How is riding a bike or building bike lanes racist? Are the bike lanes only available to the non-whites? Do the bike shops discriminate against the minorities? And before you jump in to say that only rich people can live close-in and use the bike lanes regularly, please remember that the whole north Portland is bike friendly and rather low income.

Anon above: I think what is being said by some is that, unfortunately, often one must have the time and flexibility to be able to bike everywhere on a regular basis. Many of us would like to do so more often, but do not have the "luxury of time" to be able to, have to be at work for long hours, need to pick up kids before the sun goes down, get dinner on the table and go to second job, etc.

Will any of this help those of us living in the outer east side? I doubt it. There is such a clear divide between the "Portlandia Portland" and the "other Portland."

to A, I posted the comment you replied to. Yes, time and flexibility make life and commuting easier, but everyone can try. I too have to drive to daycare before going home after a full day at work. Still, I don't see anything racist in this or in bike lanes. Having a child was my choice. I made the choice so now I have to drive to work. No problem. One day I will be able to bike again. Regardless of my commute choice, I support bike lanes and I am well aware of the positive impact of bike lanes on my commute. Imagine if every biker you see on the road was driving a car instead. It would surely take longer to get home from work.

to slogging along,
yes, the bike lanes help the inner city residents more than those in the outer city. But you could live in the inner city as well. As mentioned above, North Portland is very affordable. Also, one can swap a house in the outer Portland for an apartment in the inner Portland if better livability is the preference. It is a matter of priorities.

"Are the bike lanes only available to the non-whites? Do the bike shops discriminate against the minorities? "

Huh?

Reading the rest of your posts I have to ask, do you really have so little understanding of history of the community in which you live? There are many who clearly want an 'improved Portland' that includes more upper class whites and the things they like (and they're getting what they want) and they have this done BY DESIGN, it's not just a coincidence and unfortunately decisions about bikes has been part of this plan. It's part of a larger problem where some communities are valued over others because of their economic and political clout and others sadly lose out. The proof is in the dismal demographic numbers in a city that already has a shameful past. So have your bike fantasy but please accept with it there is a reality that it has come at the expense of historic neighborhoods that are forever changed and displaced people who no longer feel welcome in a Portland that they used to call home. You talk about choice but choice is a part of privilege which you may have but many do not.

Sure, Karen make it a racist thing. Everything can be turned around to look racist. The numbers only show that there aren't many non whites in Portland. The numbers do not provide an explanation. Racism is your explanation of the numbers and it is your spin on it.

Oakland has high number of African Americans. Would you say this shows racism against whites? I wouldn't

another thought - Arizona, as we know from the laws they passed and tried to pass is undoubtedly more racist than Portland and yet there are more non-whites there than in Portland.

Oh my.

If things were only as simple as the anon who says "but you could live in the inner city as well. As mentioned above, North Portland is very affordable. Also, one can swap a house in the outer Portland for an apartment in the inner Portland if better livability is the preference. It is a matter of priorities."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Priorities most certainly play a part in all of this. I know quite a few folks that feel they've been pushed out of inner portland and blame the "elitists" middle class white folk like myself. What is interesting is that we make the same money (actually, I might make a bit less)but we spend it in very different ways. I don't use smelly lotions, shampoos, make-up, don't go to salons for cuts, no pedi or mani, don't buy or wear jewelry, we wear thrift store clores, our car is 20 years old, we bike for work commute,etc. I'm not saying that all of the folks being pushed out spend their money on the frivolous b.s. I noted above, but a lot do. I also know of working folks that have "had" to sell their houses (that they inherited) because they didn't put money aside to pay for property taxes. Mind you, they didn't have a mortgage to pay, just property taxes. Priorities can definitely play a part in what makes or breaks the bank.

Well-written and thoughtful piece, Sarah! You cannot please them all. While I shouldn't be, I am always surprised at those that seethe with disdain for people who bike. Many bicyclists also drive; and many who bike do it because it's economical and cannot afford to own a car. I cannot recall the last time (if ever) I've seen a homeless person driving a car around. In my neighborhood they ride bikes while balancing huge bags of cans on their handlebars and pushing grocery carts down the sidewalk.

Driving is expensive. Roads are expensive, and even more expensive to maintain. And the gas tax does not even begin to cover the true cost of maintaining or repairing roads. The more cars you get off the road (especially the ones with studded tires) the better in my opinion.

I would say that I would support even more of the budget to go towards sidewalks, bike lanes, and transit. These are priorities for me.

Thanks G,
I will also add that some folks feel the "need" to have the 2,500 sq foot houses. They need both the family room and the living room. They need two car garages. the list goes on..
I prefer to skip this and live, with children, in 850 sq foot condo, so I can afford to live in inner SE Portland. And I won't let anyone tell me I am upper middle class. I am as much working middle class as the family from outer city in their 2,500 sq f house.
But, of course I believe everybody has a right to their choices. Nothing wrong with a big house, just don't say you were "pushed out" of inner city.

This thread just keeps getting more offensive, let's throw in some negative stereotyping and victim blaming! Yes, all of you are completely deserving and those people pushed out made bad choices to buy smelly lotions and so should forfeit their homes. Those people in Arizona hate Latinos even more. Got it.
All any of us was saying was that each of us needs to take responsibility for our part in this. Apparently, that's too much to ask. This type of urban planning comes at a price, but apparently; that's cool with you. There are serious problems in this city but, hey, since they're not your problems we should just stfu since we're ruining the fantasy that you're doing 'good'. Soon the city will be completely homogenous and you won't have to be bothered with dissenting voices raining on your parade. Carry on.

Portland has the lowest vacancy rate of a metropolitan area in the country. A recent housing survey showed discrimination in 67 percent of the test against black/latino renters. Unemployment has always been higher for these racial groups than whites in Oregon. So no, everyone doesn't have the same priorities/opportunities. Read the State of Black Oregon, you can find it online. Most jobs are not located in outer East County, where most of the children and their parents in Multnomah County live, so people are driving. I am totally unwilling to spend three hours on public transit per day, as a single parent who is solely responsible for the care of the kid, it's a luxury I don't have. So people with less money, are travelling further to work at a higher cost than those who can afford to live close-in. That's where the class issue comes in. I was unwilling to be 90 minutes from my daughter when she was a little in elem/middle school.

And I am saddened (really) at the myopia related to people who may have less income/opportunity/sidewalks/a local high school/physical ability than ourselves. How do we teach our children compassion and empathy for those who have less when we don't demonstrate it? Why are some children worth sidewalks and a local, walkable high school and some are not. . . As mothers, as I've said before maybe our activism shouldn't just encompass OUR family.

I am glad the bicycle folks get heard. . .it would be aweseome if they'd scoot over and welcome some disenfranchised groups to the table. That's how they used to do it, right? white people marching for civil rights, men marching for women's rights, building coalitions ACROSS lines.

BTW, my 720 sq ft house mortgage is less than most inner-city rents, provided that I lucked up on the 33% of non-discriminatory landlords when I applied. Our household is both black and latino so I guess we're screwed.

/derail

I know that these equity-type conversations harsh the mellow of some mamas, but I really think it better to have a diversity or mosaic of views represented in uMs.

Interesting discussion. I am largely ignorant of the issues being discussed but am curious what this all boils down to. It sounds like here is a pool of money, some of which that could have been spent paving unpaved streets and putting in sidewalks, but was instead spent on putting in bike lanes or other bike improvements? And this is somehow related to race/SES/gentrification/diversity/lotion preferences in Portland? Help me connect the dots please, I am not seeing it.

Protestmama and Karen speak the truth. The self-righteousness here stinks to high heaven.

I won't go into details to justify why I live in outer SE but I will say it had to do with being very conservative and buying only what I could afford. A small house in an extremely modest and very diverse neighborhood. No sign of smelly lotion or fancy cars, believe it or not. My priorities are just fine, thanks much. And I'd like to see the city address our concerns.

My previous post was just to point out that not every minority that has moved to the outer area did so because of gentrification. There are certainly cases that are due to a family priorities. It was hard to be quiet when all I seemed to be hearing was that if you appreciate and use the bike ways/paths, you are an elitist, you don't obey traffic laws, you hate minorities/poor and you enjoy kicking puppies in your spare time. Right? We have some politicians that are clearly pushing for cycling. If this bothers you vote for someone else..? Maybe we need some good ol' fashion conservatives. They always do their best to help the poor, right?

well, I'm glad someone heard something. . . .and sad that acknowledging inequity makes some folks feel attacked. . .

PM, it isn't that the posts acknowledging inequity made me feel attacked, I just thought folks were getting out of control with the stereotyping of cyclists. I don't mind being called out when I make ridiculous generalizations...I actually appreciate being reminded that my shit occasionally stinks too.

Did you read the linked article? Portland was historically known as the most segregated city outside of the south and areas of the east side were subject to redlining and other practices that are now illegal. The city began a long period of divestment in the area and banks refused to make loans in black areas. People wanted to improve their homes but could not because of systematic, institutionalized racist practices that are now well documented. The city allowed those areas to fall into disrepair much to the people's heartbreak. It is difficult for long term, multi-generational residents to finally see urban renewal occur and not to benefit after waiting patiently for years. Instead of seeing long neglected projects taken up and their neighborhoods revitalized they have been pushed out of their homes (and unfairly besmirched in the process), seen their business replaced by those that cater to new comers, seen monies that might have been spent on sidewalks, streets etc spent on bike paths for those same newcomers. And then you don't have the decency to at least acknowledge what has happened and accept your part in it since it doesn't conveniently fit your paradigm. As for the "conservative" dig, please explain how your sentiments in this regard differ from theirs? Hint: They don't.

“And then you don't have the decency to at least acknowledge what has happened and accept your part in it since it doesn't conveniently fit your paradigm. As for the "conservative" dig, please explain how your sentiments in this regard differ from theirs?”

I have most certainly acknowledged that gentrification is real. I also have acknowledged that priorities play a real part. I’m sorry if you don’t like me acknowledging both sides. Everything isn’t always black and white, I like to try to point out the grey muddled areas too! I don’t have a lot of time to articulate and convey everything I would like in these posts. I usually only comment when it seems that things are getting off balance, so I like to throw in a different perspective for people.
As for accepting my part in causing gentrification, I am the 3rd generation in my family that was born in Portland. Do I not deserve to buy an affordable house and raise my children here because I am white?
The “dig” on voting conservative was more of a serious question to folks. All politicians are going to have their little personal agendas. I try to vote in a way that I think will benefit the elderly, minorities, poor, etc. which usually convinces me to vote on the liberal side. I don’t disagree with the statement that we should be able to ask more of our elected officials. We can, but let’s not stereotype all bicyclists like jerks while we’re at it. I’m not into creating barriers, so I apologize if it feels that way. I personally can’t dedicate anymore time to this post, but if we had more time to talk, I think you’d see that we ALL have a lot more in common than you think.

Speaking of, there's a Sunday Parkway in East Portland this Sunday: http://www.portlandonline.com/index.cfm?event_id=54094&cal=DisplayEvent&c=26000 How about it?

As thick-skinned as I am, I'm afraid the tone, negativity and direction of these last comments are running a bit far afield of the original post. We do little censoring, so please bring it back to center otherwise I will delete. There's only so much criticism and negativity I can take.

I apologize. The original post set the tone; not the comments. I was under the impression this was a forum for all urban mama viewpoints, not just a select few. I was trying to bring another perspective that I feel is crucial to understanding the dynamics of communities here in Portland but is all too often margenlized. I also wanted mamas to be mindful of a history that many seem quick to want to forget even though we are still living with the fallout. I won't post again here. Good Luck!

Booo, Karen! Don't leave! I think you make some really good points and have shared a valuable perspective. The conversation just got heated and Hau is reminding us all to be respectful. I think that's pretty fair of her to do!

Yes, all perspectives are valuable, but it does not need to be provided in a way that alienates others from trying to understand your viewpoint. If trying to keep the conversation civil and respectful, is being selective than so be it.

Come have a cup of coffee or join us at a w(h)ine night some time, Karen and g., as these types of discussions may be better suited face to face. I'll buy you both a drink!

I think it's worth mentioning that a lot of the bike lane improvements happening are piggy-backing on curb cut bioswales that are already going in. It's very easy and economical to add the bike lane stuff while the crew is already doing the bioswales. This is something that Sam Adams really screwed up in his trying to explain this program, but if people would take a moment to actually look into this and get past any bike and Sam hating, you would see that it makes sense.
I understand that the bakfiets running around N. Portland seem quite extravagant, and I certainly can't afford one, but of the people I know who have them, they have made the choice to put their transportation costs toward that instead of buying a car, paying car insurance, paying for gas, etc. Again, I can't afford that up front, but in the long run it's actually cost effective, so I'd love to see a little less judgment of "obviously upper class" people in N/NE (or whatever the exact wording was. You never know someone's financial situation. Maybe someone had an inheritance from a grandparent or an insurance settlement and decided to spend it on a nice family bike. Maybe they saved up for it. Maybe they work and live and go to school in the same small area and it makes a lot of sense for them. Biking, if you live close in, does not take that much longer than driving. Once my youngest is in kindergarten I plan to go back to biking much more than now (sooner if my crappy car finally dies - then I'll have to!).
As always, it doesn't hurt to talk to your neighbors, to people in the community, instead of judging. Go ask someone about their bike. Ask about other stuff - get to know people. Think about how you might be perceived negatively by someone you don't know, and ask if you're doing the same to others. You'll find yourself happier and less judgmental.
I know that someone might observe me and think that I am upper or middle class. I have nice clothes, I try to look nice and make sure that my kids look nice. But we are poor. I know how to spot a good sale, how to trade at the resale shop and how to thrift, and many of the things that I have, or drive, were purchased in fatter times. Take good care of what you have and it will last a long time, thank goodness. It's just as class-est to not like people for appearing well off as it is for not liking people who look poor, but somehow it's okay to automatically detest "rich" people. The richest people I know look like bums.

if people would take a moment it look into this and get past any bike, you would see that,make sense.

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