Something special is going on in Portland these days. Maybe it's all the national media attention; maybe it's the thousands of creative class types who move here every year. Maybe it's our music scene. Hell, maybe it's the weather. Whatever it is, we Portlanders seem to be setting the pace nationally for how to work and live eco-friendly, quirky lives.
You might say we're a national experiment--and so far, one that's working--on how to live well on less oil.
We've built today's reputation on the good ideas of those that came before us: land use planning, moving the freeway off our waterfront, investing in mass transit. What we absolutely shouldn't do at this point is to stop investing in good, innovative ideas. That's why I think City Council needs to approve and build the Flanders Street Bridge.
As I write, City Council is deliberating this bicycle and pedestrian bridge, which would recycle the old Sauvie Island Bridge, which is scheduled to be replaced. (BikePortland's Jonathan Maus is posting live updates, which include the testimony of a relative of 19-year-old Tracy Sparling, killed last fall in a "right-hook" turn accident near NW Portland).
The Flanders Street Bridge would allow for cyclists and pedestrians to cross I-405 (currently difficult and dangerous territory for walkers and bikers) and hopefully increase the numbers of bikers on the road to and from NW Portland, where counts are low. It would allow for the re-use a beautiful and historic span, which would probably otherwise be discarded or pieced out for scrap.
Most importantly, the Flanders Street Bridge would be another investment by Portlanders and our city into proving that there is life beyond cars and oil. That you can create a city where people move freely from place to place without polluting. That health and livability can be increased when we all drive less.
Build the bridge. Keep Portland weird.