October 19, 2005
Portland Transport is Going to Europe
[photos removed per agreement]
That's right, we're headed oversees.
Your correspondent is headed to Prague at the end of the month to join the Portland Streetcar delegation going to inspect the next three cars now under construction in the Czech Republic.
The next stop on the trip is Amsterdam, where I'll join Commissioner Sam Adams, PDOT's bicycle coordinator and a crew from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (some of whom are also Portland Transport contributors) to help understand what makes Amsterdam one of the great biking cities of the world. We'll be bringing back ideas to help get Portland to Platinum status.
Readers can look forward to a steady stream of blog posts and photos during the trip!
We're also accepting suggestions for what we should be looking out for. Let us know your thoughts.
We'll be using Flckr to host our trip photos. Here is our first attempt at integrating it into a Portland Transport post. Thanks to Todd Boulanger (the venerable bike advocate from Vancouver USA) for providing us with some Amsterdam preview photos.
October 19, 2005 8:55 AM
Mark Oliver Says:
I would like to submit something to look for in the Netherlands:
In my opinion, one of the factors contributing to Amsterdam's special stature as a " " is its level of connectivity to multiple regional cycling trails, allowing a cyclist to travel the entire length and breadth of the country. One can easily pedal to the ocean, to other cities (including Leiden and Utrecht, which cities are, in my opinion, just as bikeable as Amsterdam), and to scenic natural and rural areas and parks. For that matter, one can pedal to Belgium.
Routes such as this include on-street bike lanes, as well as an amazingly well-planned system of off-street multi-use trails, equivalent to Springwater.
As someone who would love to see increased development of such a system in our region, I submit this as something to examine, should you have the time.
Thank you, and goede reizen.
October 19, 2005 8:57 AM
Mark Oliver Says:
Sorry, an edit to my second sentence above: "Amsterdam's special stature as a great cycling city."
October 19, 2005 9:12 AM
Ron Swaren Says:
You probably won't have time for this, but, the Eastern European rail passes are an extreme bargain! The current price for one Czech Flexipass 2nd class is $52.00/3 days plus 7.00/per extra day. 1st class is more. Must be purchased from RailEurope in the US.
I would like to know what those Skoda cars cost locally. Does our cost reflect a big markup because they are imported? Of course even Oregon labor costs would probably be considerably more, assuming they were produced here.
October 19, 2005 9:48 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Ron, unfortunately I only have one trip within Europe, Prague to Amsterdam and the tight schedule is causing me to fly.
In fact the cars we are inspecting are not being built at Skoda. The export company we work with, Inekon, has a new manufacturing partner, which is actually the transit agency in Ostrava (think of TriMet building light rail cars in its maintenance shop). We'll be seeing the Ostrava plant for the first time on this trip.
The landed cost of the car is around $1.3M (it varies with the exchange rate). It may be a little bit less if our congressional delegation succeeds in getting the import tarrifs waived.
While we hope to build cars here (and have federal funding to help Oregon Iron Works build a prototype), most of the components will still come from Europe (major pieces include the trucks, drive units, doors and AC). The final manufacturer is really responsible for the frame and integrating all the components, which is not trivial. You would be amazed at all the wires running through the walls of one of our cars.
Having an onshore supplier will also be important to meet Buy America requirements as we seek federal dollars for furture extensions.
And of course we love the idea of creating jobs here in Oregon!
October 19, 2005 11:02 AM
Lenny Anderson Says:
My guess is you will be flying in via Frankfurt a/Main. I would recommend that you take a day to check this city's transportation system out. It has all kind of rail, lots of bike routes, parks along both sides of the Main river and is the booming finance capital of Europe.
The closest model for what Portland's rail transportation system could be is what you find in most German cities...Strassenbahn (streetcars), U-Bahn (lightrail with subway in central city) and S-Bahn (commuter rail). Together these three components move millions of travelers in German cities today.
I know Frankfurt a/Main best. It has 7 LRT lines running through three tunnels plus a dozen S-Bahn lines most of which run through yet another tunnel under the Innenstadt. Strassenbahns continue in outer neighborhoods, though most lines to the center were converted to U-Bahn lines, which is a mixed blessing...faster, but less daylight for riders!
Germans love their autos! and autobahns ring every city, but don't cut right through the heart. Indeed, Frankfurt, not known as a beautiful city, as parks along both sides of the River Main. Imagine a string of museums where the Eastbank freeway sits in Portland! Oh well...we need to save those sub-urban commuters a few minutes each day.
There is lots more to learn from Frankfurt...bikeways, lower speeds on urban streets, etc.
My favorite Frankfurt comment came from a friend at a party who said she came by Strassenbahn because she found a great parking place for her car right in front of her apartment and did not want to lose it! Keep those cars parked!
Lenny Anderson, NE Portland
October 19, 2005 7:31 PM
Chris Smith Says:
Lenny, you're correct that I'm going through Frankfurt, but unfortunately I'm already booked and will only have a 60-minute layover :-(
October 20, 2005 9:01 AM
Lenny Anderson Says:
too bad that you like most people get out of Frankfurt asap! But I think you could learn a lot there.
Amsterdam, as lovely as it is, is really not much of a port anymore...are we headed there too? Its also the capital, an administrative center, etc. of a nation, which Portland isn't. But no question the Dutch have done a ton to encourage bicycling...as have cities in northern Germany.
Keep an eye out for any connection between moving freight and shifting trips from cars to bikes. I have looked and found nothing explicit in any policy, but then I don't read Dutch.
PS the one non-transport thing you should do in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House.