Archive | November, 2005

Habitat Jam: a new way to talk about cities?

Listening to the most recent Smart City I was intrigued to hear about the Habitat Jam project.

It’s a worldwide online conversation (a chat room on steroids?) comprised of six forums, including one titled “Humanity, the Future of our Cities”. There’s also a forum on Environmental Sustainability. The Forums run December 1st-3rd. I think it will start late in the evening Thursday, Pacific Time.

While there is not a specific forum on transportation, I can’t imagine that the “Future of Cities” and “Sustainability” forums can ignore transportation. I intend to check it out, if only to see how the Internet is used in this way. They expect thousands of participants.

Who Needs an SUV?!

One of the most striking things we saw in the Netherlands was whole families traveling together by bike. Perhaps the most touching scene, which we saw several times, was a parent riding side-by-side with a younger child, with a hand outstretched on the child’s shoulder to guide him or her.

While unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that scene, I did get a number with mothers transporting younger children by bike, plus bikes outfitted for that purpose.
One of the most striking things we saw in the Netherlands was whole families traveling together by bike. Perhaps the most touching scene, which we saw several times, was a parent riding side-by-side with a younger child, with a hand outstretched on the child’s shoulder to guide him or her.

While unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that scene, I did get a number with mothers transporting younger children by bike, plus bikes outfitted for that purpose.

Baby on Board

Shopping with Mom

In Traffic

The Dutch answer to the SUV

Double Seater

Lots of Room

Rear Seat

Trailer AND Rear Seat

Note the trailer AND the rear seat!

A Milestone and a Crossroads

Sometime early this morning (I didn’t stay up to watch), we passed 20,000 visitors since Portland Transport was launched this summer. Here are a few other statistics to mark this occassion…

Sometime early this morning (I didn’t stay up to watch), we passed 20,000 visitors since Portland Transport was launched this summer. Here are a few other statistics to mark this occassion:

  • 1,000+ visitors per week
  • 194 Posts
  • 1,400 Comments

It’s that last number that makes me believe the site is a success. We have achieved our goal of creating a place where citizens and advocates for many different modes of transportation can come together to discuss our vision and help shape common goals.

To help propel Portland Transport into the future, we have taken another step, incorporating as a non-profit. Portland Transport has been an Oregon non-profit corporation since late October, and we are in the process of seeking 501(c)(3) status. This phase of our evolution will allow us to offer services and resources on the site that would be difficult without corporate status – we hope to announce one of these services later this week. But it does involve some costs (not the least of which is paying our attorney for the incorporation – even though she is generously doing most of the work pro-bono).












So we are now asking for your financial support to help with these costs and to cover our modest monthly operating costs. We’re adding a PayPal contributions button to the site, and would appreciate your support, even in small amounts. Part of the requirement to convince the IRS we deserve 501(c)(3) status is to show that we have a base of contributors, and this isn’t just a personal hobby for a few of us!

Thank you for your involvement in making Portland Transport the great site that it is, and thank you in advance for your future support.

Bookshelf: In the Bubble

A while back, I referenced some interviews with John Thackara, author of In the Bubble.

The focus of the book is the importance of design in a world as complex as ours. He has an interesting perspective on the problems of our world, perhaps best illustrated by the chapter titles…

//ref=nosim/”> Link to book at Amazon.com


Link to book at Powell’s
Link to book at Multnomah County Library

List Price:



A while back, I referenced some interviews with John Thackara, author of In the Bubble. I’ve since had a chance to read the book.

The focus of the book is the importance of design in a world as complex as ours. He has an interesting perspective on the problems of our world, perhaps best illustrated by the chapter titles:

  • Lightness
  • Speed
  • Mobility
  • Locality
  • Situation
  • Conviviality
  • Learning
  • Literacy
  • Smartness
  • Flow

Obviously, a number of these are directly on point for transportation issues.

A few insights from the book:

  • When you look at total lifecycle costs, high speed rail is not significantly less energy-intensive than airlines. But equally, the growth of airline use at current rates is clearly not sustainable.
  • Faster is not always better, illustrated by a quote about trams (streetcars) from Michael Douglas, an Australian designer: “Tramways curiously run against the grain of industrial logic. Travelling back and forth, day in and day out, tramways help us encounter and learn about small things of value whilst participating in the larger choreography of a city’s metabolism.”

A very thought-provoking read!