Know how great it feels when you grab a coat or a pair of pants you haven't worn in a while, and you find a forgotten $20 bill in one of the pockets? It's like the universe has given you a gift, and since you weren't expecting it, you can blow it on something fun—instead of formula and diapers or, you know, rent.
Multiply that $20 by 100,000, and you'll know how Mayor Tom Potter feels. On Monday, May 7, Potter's office announced that the city budget has an extra $2 million to play with, due to an unexpected influx of business license revenue. The timing couldn't have been better for Potter, as outrage was boiling in the bicycle community over his decision to cut the $100,000 funding from the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan. Despite pleas from bike activists, Potter dug in his heels, refusing to budge—that is, until the universe handed him $2 million.
Now, much to the cyclists' delight, the money is back in. The lingering question: Did Potter's stubborn refusal to accommodate the cyclists in the first place permanently damage his bike-friendly reputation? Maybe a bigger question: Will being on the outs with the bicycling community hurt Potter's chances for reelection? Is the actual political power of bicyclists equal to the volume of their voices?
One thing is for certain—their impact at city hall is the envy of the city's other two-wheeled inhabitants: motorcyclists and scooter riders. For years, those two groups have been clamoring about the parking situation downtown, which isn't particularly friendly to motorbikes. On Wednesday, May 9, city council will vote on creating a motorcycle and scooter advisory committee, much like existing groups for bicycles and transportation in general.
Sure, they don't lessen air pollution or traffic congestion as much as bicycles, but they beat the parade of single-occupancy vehicles that crowd Portland's streets by a mile. Now that they'll have "legitimacy" as an official advisory group to council, they might finally get a little respect.
Sadly still on the sidelines: low-income households with no computer access. Despite that little $2 million budget bump, Commissioner Dan Saltzman's "Get Connected" idea—which would have provided computers and access to the city's WiFi network to 300 families—is still toast. It would have cost $150,000. What did get funded, though, is $100,000 at the request of Commissioner Erik Sten for the Wordstock Festival, and $100,000 to Commissioner Sam Adams for something called "ArtsPartners." Plus a cool half a million to plan the Burnside/Couch "couplet" transformation.