Transportation in the State of the City

In Friday’s State of the City address, Mayor Adams outlined several interesting ideas for transporation:

A Streetcar in Lents

Portland was a streetcar city and it shall return to being a streetcar city. And by “city,” I mean citywide.

The Mayor showed a visual simulation of a streetcar on Foster, and the development it would stimulate.

And best of all, the streetcars are built right here by Oregon Iron Works – on sale to the rest of the country. The only streetcar that meets the Buy America requirements for federal dollars.

Commitment to the Bicycle Plan

The same goes for our brand new bicycle plan, which elevates our aspirations to one in four trips in Portland to be made on bicycle. It’s the most ambitious, most comprehensive plan of its kind in the country. By building it out, we will be on par with the great bike cities of Northern Europe.

There’s been some chatter out there about cost, and that’s fine.

But folks, here’s the bottom line: we can’t afford not to build it. Think about the cost of any given trip made on bicycle versus private automobile. There’s no such thing as a pothole caused by bikes. No noise and no emissions. And you’re getting exercise, which, frankly, some of us – including yours truly – could use.

Even if you never plan to set foot on a bicycle, you benefit tremendously. Fewer vehicles, less congestion, reduced pollution.

We’re Portland and we lead the nation in bicycling, because that’s how we roll.

Sidewalks!

And if I’m talking innovation and greater resilience through transportation, I gotta talk about sidewalks. You may remember that the state legislature passed a modest increase in the gas tax last year. I want to put $16 million into sidewalk development in East Portland, North/NE Portland, and SW Portland – the areas of town annexed into the city that have never had sidewalks.

There is a caveat. Anti-tax types from elsewhere have submitted an initiative to the state to repeal that source of funding. When you see one of those signature gatherers on the streets I want you to think about Jean and her two infants. Jean can’t afford a car; she relies on transit. Can we really expect her to safely get to her MAX stop – with her stroller in tow – without a sidewalk? Is that fair? Is that Portland? I say no.

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