Mayor: Bike projects more important than fixing roads

Mayor: Bike projects more important than fixing roads »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Mayor Sam Adams is making no apologies for saying that city bike projects are more important than paving pothole-filled roads, and he’s taking some heat from drivers.

Everybody is getting more money, however. The city is spending more on both road projects and bike projects but the percentage of the transportation budget spent on fixing the roads is shrinking.

When Jen Kearns moved to Southeast Carlton she never dreamed she’d still be driving on so many rough roads.

"I just got caught in these streets that dead ended and that were unfinished, and I just thought, 'Where am I?' I feel like I’m in some backwoods town," she said. "I couldn’t believe that this is a city. Where did we move? It really was shocking."

It’s the same story on Southeast Cooper. It’s just another of the nearly 59 miles of unpaved Portland roads.

According to the mayor’s office, the city spent about $6 million paving roads this year but Southeast Cooper was not one of them. There are crater-sized potholes fit for four-wheel drive vehicles.

But neighbors waiting for their streets to get some attention may not want to hold their breath.

"We don’t pave unpaved roads. We never have," Adams said Tuesday.

And he says his money is on the city’s bike projects.

"The neighborhood streets, we don’t have the money for," he said. "We’ve never had the money to pave sidewalk neighborhood streets."

He said prioritizing bike projects over street projects save lives.

"Getting the signals where the bikers are being killed is what this money goes for."

He acknowledged that some of the streets are a safety hazard, "but we haven’t had the resources to even address all the dangerous streets."

It’s not something Kearns and her neighbors said they want to hear.

"It’s a safety issue," she said. "Roads that are this bad are for sure a safety issue."

As the budget proposal for next year stands now, bike projects would get $3.5 million and motor vehicle projects would get $12.4 million.