Member Reflection! Advocrats and Neighborhood Empowerment.

Member Reflection - Greg Raisman Event

BY: LiveMover Andrew Martin

Portland is famous for its transportation options and quirky neighborhood projects. Greg Raisman, who is in charge of engineering and community engagement at Portland Bureau of Transportation, has been involved in some way or another with many of them. Greg made the trek down to Eugene to speak to a crowded room at the Barnlight East on February 7th.

Through his job at PBOT, Greg has been involved with the painted intersection murals, neighborhood greenways, and many other projects around the city. He made it clear that he sees himself as an ‘advocrat,’ whose job it is to advocate for communities by letting grassroots lead and being a resource for how the bureaucracy works. In fact, one of his biggest takeaways was that many projects are about building neighborhood connections.

Greg stressed several times that one of the most visible projects, murals painted onto intersections in residential areas, doesn’t actually slow the traffic. To Greg, the murals are about neighborhood empowerment. This gets neighbors together so they can continue to work on other projects that make their neighborhoods great places to live.

Greg also talked about how critical it is for local transportation agencies to be involved in the neighborhoods. He noted that local transportation agencies are the largest real estate owners in their city. Greg is a big advocate for residential streets to be truly residential. One statistic that really stuck with me was that 68.6% of the roads in Portland are residential, yet only 17% of collisions between cars and people riding bikes or walking occur there. Things that make streets a great place to live - slow speeds, little traffic, streetscaping – coincidentally make them great places to ride a bike too. Greg urged us all to advocate for all of the benefits and not just focus on bikes, because being more inclusive about who will benefit can help get more neighbors on board.

Based on the size of the crowd and the energy during the question and answer portion, it’s clear that residents of Eugene and Springfield are excited to make our local streets safer for everyone and more enjoyable place to live.