The following statements regarding the Columbia River Crossing are those of my friend Michael Hernandez, but they might as well be my own.
‘FUCK THE CRC’
By Michael Hernandez ••
Today is February 18, 2013. We are a group of cyclists riding our bikes from Portland, Oregon to Salem, Oregon and back, a round trip of over 100 miles, to attend a joint committee hearing to speak in opposition to the proposed HB2800 also known as the Columbia Rive Crossing (CRC), or more currently the I-5 Freeway Expansion Project. Our concerns are valid and we wish to address these concerns to the legislative bodies that will be deciding the fate of this massive project.
We choose to be cyclists and our numbers are growing more and more every day. Recent statistics show that there is a decline in car ownership and a rise in bicycle sales and use of transit. We choose to be cyclists for many reasons. Some of us do it for the exercise, some of us do it to save money, but many of us do it because it is the best part of our day. We are workers, we are homeowners, we have families,but first and foremost, we are cyclists and we wear that badge proudly. It is not easy being a cyclist, and we feel empowered by the fact that we are helping future generations enjoy the “clean” air that we take for granted.
This project will destroy that. Many of us already consider riding with masks because of the pollution. Consider this: have you ever heard of someone committing suicide by running their car with the garage door closed? That is what we breathe in on a daily basis. Our lives are unique because of this. People that commute in their cars do not have to deal with this and thus do not understand what they are doing to our planet. But this is their choice, and I will respect the choice that they have made.
Something else to consider; as a bicycle mechanic, I have to travel almost seven blocks from where I work in order to diagnose a problem with a bike due to the traffic noise in the neighborhood. This project will bring insane amounts of noise and air pollution into North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods, ultimately destroying the health of many in the area.
Do not be fooled, this project will not ease congestion. It is tough to understand how expanding a bridge freeway will lead to less congestion. At some point, congestion will occur somewhere further down the road where yet another bill will be implemented to expand another freeway project that will ultimately destroy more livable communities. This will have a domino effect until the communities that we have fought for will ultimately be destroyed. In this sense, this project is just as destructive as the Keystone XL pipeline, mountaintop removal, or fracking – and it must be stopped in its tracks.
For a fraction of the cost of this mega-project, we could build a cycle track that would go from Portland to Salem so that cyclists could travel without danger to participate in the democratic process of this great state, bioregion, and country. We are more informed than ever, and we will continue to protest these abhorrent expansions.
We have deliberately ridden our bikes here so that no one person can label us hypocrites. We are not paid lobbyists. We are taxpayers, and we pay more than our fair share for the roads. According to Elly Blue’s zine Bikenomics, “The average driver travels 10,000 miles in town each year and contributes $324 in taxes and direct fees. The cost to the public, including direct costs and a handful of externalities, is a whopping $3,360 per driver, per year. On the opposite pole, someone who exclusively bikes will average 3,000 miles in a year, contribute $300 annually in taxes, and costs the public only $36 in direct road costs and externalities-making for a profit of $264. These figures are national averages”. We do this with our own money, our own energy and with our passion because this is not something we wish for future generations.
Show me one person here who has as much passion about this as us and we will listen to what you have to say, however, this project will not come to fruition, because we are going to stop it. If not through democratic processes, than by means of direct action if necessary.