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Even computers have a sense of humor

Posted by Jeremy Schultz on April 26, 2007

This week, Jonathan Maus of reported that the Mayor of Portland had left out continued funding of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan Update process. As a citizen who prefers to get around town by bike, I care about this issue. Up to this point, the process has been rolling since last year and would go a long way to enable efforts to come up with new, creative solutions to some of Portland’s transportation problems.

To help get this policy changed and keep the update alive, I accepted Jonathan and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s calls to action: I wrote an e-mail to the Mayor and some of the city commissioners. Rather than state the obvious benefits of more people on bikes (cleaner air, less congestion, fitter citizens, less land/infrastructure needed for cars, …), I took a different angle. I brought up the statement that the Portland area is likely to grow by one million people in the next 25 years and posed the question, “What kind of people do we want to attract?”

Funding decisions such as these shape a city’s future significantly. Small, early investments in good planning such as this has measurable long-term payoff in developing a livable city that attracts the kind of folks who prefer bicycles as transportation. These folks are very often progressive, hard-working, civic-minded and choose to help solve the city’s problems and shape it into an inspiring place. They are not just subsisting and hoping for more of the status quo (freeways and cheap gas).

That’s how I put it. Composed in Yahoo! Mail. Write, spell-check, re-read, send. I received the two canned replies and nothing yet from the Mayor. When I received the first reply, I noticed the footer that Yahoo! Mail automatically added to my message:

Ahhh…imagining that irresistible “new car” smell?
Check out new cars at Yahoo! Autos.

Ah, dammit! Stinky free e-mail stole a bit of my thunder. But not too much. The BTA reported today that our comments set a record at the Mayor’s office. Hopefully our avalanche of feedback will lead to action!


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