(Photo @leahtreat on Twitter)
In case it didn’t come through in the two stories I’ve posted about new PBOT Director Leah Treat today, I want to make it clear that she likes bikes. Treat rides bicycles regularly and she’s not shy about sharing her appreciation of bicycling with the public. Does this matter? Yes. Does it mean everybody’s bike dreams will suddenly come true? No.
As we’ve unfortunately experienced for the past four-plus years, politics often trumps good policy and projects here in Portland. But that being said, I think Treat’s love of cycling and her understanding that bicycling plays a crucial and valuable role in the urban transportation mix, is an extremely important trait that is likely bode very well for Portland’s future. This is especially true when her perspective is combined with that of her two bosses — Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales — both of whom are very supportive of bicycling and seem poised to shake up the local transportation status quo.
What evidence do I have that Treat likes bikes? Here are a few things quickly gleaned from the Interwebs…
On Twitter @leahtreat, many of the stories she shares are about bicycling. She also posted a photo of her new cargo bike back in May…
Meet the latest edition to the Treat fleet! pic.twitter.com/bsB4wE0eVK
— Leah Treat (@leahtreat) May 19, 2013
Also via Twitter, we know she’s married to a “bike fanatic” and she shared a photo of herself astride an “awesome” Divvy Bike:
There’s also this from the Willamette Week today:
Treat tells reporters in a conference call that she’s interested in increasing the percentage of trips taken in Portland on bicycle.
“I get around on a bike,” Treat says. “We’re working hard [in Chicago] to make the roads safe for them. I definitely will be interested in increasing biking’s mode share in a way that’s safe for everybody.”
And it’s also worth noting that Treat has worked closely on the launch of the two largest and most successful bike sharing systems in America. While in D.C., she worked the finances to help make Capital Bikeshare a reality and as chief of staff to Gabe Klein in Chicago she was heavily involved in the launch of Divvy Bikes. Both of those systems are run by Alta Bicycle Share, which happens to be the same company at the helm of Portland’s upcoming bike share system.
With all these ties to bicycling, it will be interesting to watch how the local media portrays Treat. The Oregonian already found it necessary to label her as “a cyclist”, thereby beginning the narrative they’ll use to try and define the motivations behind her every move.
Regardless of how the local powers-that-be try to define Treat, I think her record is promising and I think having her at the helm of PBOT might be just what we’ve needed to get our groove back. Stay tuned…