Culture

Portland Goes Full Totalitarian, Will Close Streets To Encourage Distancing

A resident walks near a road closure on Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland, in preparation for the Republican National Convention that starts Monday. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Portland, Oregon has gotten famous over the years for its road diet plans. Now the city wants to expand its war on cars, using the Wuhan pandemic as the perfect excuse. The city will use coronavirus as the catalyst to place barricades and signage to let drivers know that their cars no longer belong on the streets.

According to local news reports,

The plan also includes expanding space for pedestrians along streets that are “narrow or missing sidewalks,” and provide more room with pop-up walking and biking lanes.

In business districts, PBOT said they’ll establish space so customers can line up with enough physical distance, and create dedicated loading zones for pickup and delivery.

The commissioner in charge of Portland Bureau of Transportation, Chloe Eudaly, is a tenants rights activist who ascended to public office on a platform that included rent control, bike lanes, and road diets. She has overseen many of Portland’s wackiest ideas, like reducing travel lanes on major thoroughfares and increasing commute times.

Eudaly released a statement chock full of Orwellian doublespeak that made this sound as palatable as possible:

“Right now, the best thing Portlanders can do for the health of our community is to continue to stay home to save lives. PBOT is carefully considering how transportation behavior has changed and how it needs to change, not just as we recover from this crisis, but to support a sustainable future,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “Our Slow Streets|Safe Streets Initiative will provide the space Portlanders need to move around our city safely, and improve how we share our right of way. I am proud of PBOT’s leadership on this issue. We have been responsive to community advocates and business concerns while balancing the vital need to prioritize public health and vulnerable Portlanders. Our streets belong to all of us, and these improvements will allow us to safely walk, bike, and roll through the city.” [emphasis added]

Eudaly channeled her inner control freak Rahm Emmanuel as she crowed about supporting a sustainable future, by exploiting this crisis and not letting it go to waste. Reading the entire statement on the PBOT website, it becomes crystal clear that they want these changes to become permanent, and that the pandemic crisis presents a real-time opportunity for them to define a new normal.

The three main changes proposed:

  1. Block off 100 miles of Neighborhood Greenway streets to car traffic, or implement traffic reductions where closures are not feasible
  2. Install pop-up walking and biking lanes to encourage local trips on foot or by bike.
  3. Business districts: reserve space so customers can line up while maintaining appropriate physical distancing; create dedicated loading zones for pickup and delivery.

At the end of the statement, PBOT leaves no doubt about their intent to make these changes permanent and encourage social distancing even after the pandemic ends:

In the coming weeks, PBOT will hold a series of digital meetings with community, business, and neighborhood groups to collect input on how our streets can best serve all Portlanders both during and after this public health crisis. If members of the public have suggestions for locations where street improvements could support safe physical distancing, please contact PBOT at 503-823-SAFE or email: [email protected] Planning and preparation is underway for these actions, and the Slow Streets|Safe Streets initiative will begin to launch immediately with additional phases timed to launch when the Governor’s Office and public health officials officially start the re-opening process.

At this rate, and with the assistance of a well-timed public health crisis, it won’t be terribly long before Portland wins its war with cars and bans them from the city altogether.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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