What a sore loser.
Mayor Tom Potter, upset that his political foe City Commissioner Sam Adams had rounded up three votes to move the old Sauvie Island Bridge to NW Flanders—where it will be the innovation connection for two halves of a bike and pedestrian boulevard—issued a statement on Thursday, April 24.
"This bridge will give the Pearl District three overpasses in a three-block span—while Cully still waits for sidewalks," the mayor said, alluding to his I'll-repeat-it-until-people-believe-it statement that funds slated to move the bridge could pay for sidewalks in Cully (the vast majority of the $5.5 million can't be used elsewhere). Potter continues: "While one accident anywhere is one accident too many, the NW Flanders site is not on city Department of Transportation's list of dangerous intersections for either autos, bikes, or pedestrians."
Oy. Potter seemed to realize that his "what about the children who have to walk through muddy ditches in Cully" argument was losing traction, as people have realized that the money isn't really transferable. So now he's busting out a second intellectually dishonest (and downright bizarre) case against the bridge—NW Flanders is already safe! Why on earth should we encourage more people to bike and walk on it?
Um, that doesn't even make sense. It must have been "opposite day" at Potter's office.
NW Flanders' record of safety makes it exactly the right spot for a low-traffic bike boulevard. There have been collisions around the other two overpasses, where bikes and pedestrians dodge cars and freeway on- and off-ramps to get across. With city estimates showing that 60 percent of Portlanders are "interested but concerned" when it comes to cycling, creating a bike boulevard in the city's densest quadrant (complete with an overpass that is wide enough to accommodate demand, ready to be installed now, and probably cheaper in the long run than a utilitarian narrow concrete slab no one's excited about) is a smart move to get people out of their cars.
With a day to go before he officially loses this argument, Potter desperately tossed out a brand-new line of reasoning in the editorial pages of the Oregonian on Tuesday, April 29. After arguing again that the funds could be used elsewhere (OMG!), Potter really went for the bridge's jugular.
"We don't need any new bridge over I-405 until we take care of our other, more pressing transportation obligations elsewhere in the community," he says.
Wow. Is Potter having a senior moment? Or is he so blinded by his distaste for Adams' agenda that he's forgotten about his past votes in favor of this project (there have been three, by my count)?
At the council meeting on Wednesday, Adams says he's going "to correct the record. That's all I can do. His statements on this issue are inaccurate."
Moreover, Potter's "position has become more and more extreme as time has gone on," Adams told the Mercury on Tuesday. "And his tactics have been more and more overt in their attempt to play one side of the city off of the other." Pointing out that five pedestrians and a cyclist have been killed in the immediate area in the past decade—and 89 serious injury accidents—Adams adds that "if the status quo was working," that wouldn't be the case.