Opinion: Our candid commissioner

Pretty safe to say the commissioner won’t be at the World Naked Bike Ride.

It’s been many years since we’ve had a transportation commissioner as willing to voice progressive ideas and positions as Chloe Eudaly.

I’m not sure if it’s because Commissioner Eudaly is simply more comfortable on social media than any other council member, or because she sees the communication channel as a strategic tool to shift the conversation her way. Whatever the reason(s), I like it. And if you care about smashing the transportation status quo, you should too.

Two recent Facebook comments from the Commissioner stand out. One was lighthearted, the other more meaty.

Last week she jokingly posted a “Hard Pass!” graphic in response to our story about the upcoming World Naked Bike Ride. Then, in response to a constituent who felt the new bus/bike lane on SW Madison unfairly “forced him out” of his car (as if!), the Commissioner wrote in all caps “YOU ARE THE CONGESTION!”  The exchange was worth a screenshot:

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Eudaly speaking at the Lori Woodard memorial rally. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s one thing for a leader to have these opinions, it’s another thing to express them candidly in a public forum like Facebook. And they have added resonance because people tend to tune out politicians who can only speak in glittering generalities and who fear direct communication via social media. 

While PBOT remains too timid, they agency has shown promising signs of progress recently. Now with Chris Warner being firmly seated as director — and with Eudaly gaining more confidence on transportation issues with each passing week — I’m optimistic about what lies ahead.

If PBOT is ever going to start riding faster, they need someone like Commissioner Eudaly out front to provide a draft. We are nowhere near the finish, but at least we have someone on city council not afraid to engage and speak truth to naysayers.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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