May 31, 2006
I seem to have gotten myself prominently quoted in yesterday's Tribune on parking in NW Portland.
In the same issue, there is an article on Sam Adams' efforts to get paid parking in more business districts (more info on Sam's blog).
Believe it or not, my neighborhood is actually an argument in favor of Sam's approach.
While ultimately the insistence of the business association (one developer in particular) to attach off-street parking structures tanked any kind of consensus, the neighborhood had actually gotten behind the idea of paid parking before that point.
The key benefits of paid parking, particularly in near-in neighborhoods are:
- Remove park-and-hide commuters who drive into the inner city, park for free, then hop on transit to complete their trip downtown, avoiding downtown parking rates.
- Encourage turnover of parking spaces in front of retail shops and restaurants.
- Funnel meter revenue back into improvements in the neighborhood.
So I think Sam has it right, but I wish he could convince his Council colleagues to deal with the screwed-up stalemate in my neighborhood.
Sometimes I just can't help being a little jealous. Recently two pieces came across my desk about better mode splits for bikes and walking in Canada.
The Daily Score reports that in Vancouver, B.C., they've already blown past their 2021 goals (by 50%!) for bike and pedestrian trips.
It would be nice to think that someday Portland could not just lead the nation, but lead the continent...
May 30, 2006
According to Saturday's O, anti-toll signs are beginning to appear along 99W in Newberg. Meanwhile, motorists on 99W are going to be randomly sampled to determine origins and destinations and their attitudes toward polling.
This article also launched a thread on Blue Oregon.
Also in the news last week, Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, enthused all over the op-ed page of the New York Times about the virtues of tolling. A large part of his enthusiasm seems to be about using "other people's money". I'm assuming that means that their toll road attracts a lot of out-of-state traffic.
I don't believe I've seen any analysis on how much of the traffic on the three toll projects ODOT is looking at comes from outside the immediate region.
Portland Parks and Recreation has a released a draft strategy (PDF, 420K) for development of the Portland segments of the regional trails network. Check it out and let them know what you think.
Or attend the formal presentation:
Thursday, June 1, 2006 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Portland Building - Second Floor Room C
1120 SW Fifth Portland
May 29, 2006
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Damon Fordham, Oregon Department of Transportation
Topic: Developing a Sustainability Program for ODOT
When: Friday, June 2, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
Memorial Day is the traditional opening of the summer driving season and Saturday's O takes a look at whether high gas prices are changing behavior.
Apparently not. Demand for gasoline is has not significantly changed. The hypothesis is that consumers adapt to gradual changes in price, even signfiicant ones, by readjusting their spending in other categories. This is contrasted with behavior changes in the 70's when price changes were sharper and supplies were limited.
One rational note: GM is discontinuing the Hummer H1, apparently for lack of demand.
May 26, 2006
This comparison of the development along Streetcar alignments in various cities showed up in my e-mail box this week, courtesy of the national Community Streetcar Coalition.
|Streetcar Benefits to Investment|
|Start of Service||Initial Track Miles||Initial System Cost Per Track Mile (Millions)||Initial System Cost (Millions)^||Development Investment (Millions)*||Return on Investment (%)||Expansion Planned|
|^ This represents the total costs of the project including maintenance facilities and in Tampa's case, land acquisition.|
|* This represents planned and existing development investments directly related to the lines. Numbers were through interviews in Little Rock and Kenosha, a development study in Portland, and calculations of new planned development located three blocks or less from the streetcar in Tampa.|
Apparently TriMet is following some of our discussions here about maxing out capacity for bikes on bus and MAX.
Here's a note I recently received:
This is Kiran Limaye, bicycle coordinator for TriMet. I believe we met at a TPAC meeting some time back.
A while ago there was a post on your blog about how much we can scale the bikes on transit concept. With higher bike mode shares, most 'platinum' level cities focus on high quality parking instead of allowing bikes on board.
With that in mind, I wanted to let your readers know about recent efforts to improve our bike parking. They include:
- On-demand smart card lockers,
- Leveraging light rail project funds to support attended bicycle parking facilities downtown and,
- Attended bike parking for Rose Festival & Pedalpalooza
Kiran also points out that TriMet now has an e-mail notice list specifically for Bike on Bus issues. You can sign up for it through their e-mail subscription page.
I'm glad to hear TriMet is thinking about this, but I'd still like to see them look at putting triple racks on frequent service routes!
With a specialty focus ... TriMet Watchdog
May 25, 2006
The "New Look" process, the update of both our regional land use plan and our Regional Transportation Plan, calls for a wide variety of public outreach methods. Included are three major "regional forums." The first has been scheduled:
New Look at Region Choices Regional Forum 2006 Save the Date 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, June 23, 2006 Oregon Convention Center $30 per person (lunch provided)
More than one million more people will be living here during the next thirty years. Join the Metro Council and public and private leaders as we respond to the unprecedented opportunities and challenges we face as a region.
Details about the program, registration and payment will follow soon.
For more information about the Metro Council's New Look at Regional Choices, visit www.metro-region.org/newlook.
For information about the Regional Forum, contact:
Metro Planning Department
Frankly, I'm a little concerned that such an important forum carries a cover charge for citizens to participate, but it is important and I hope Portland Transport readers will consider attending.
This seems like a good time to make Portland Transport's tracking of the RTP update a little more official - I've created a category for tracking it.
But how about using blogs to really involve citizens in the process of government? Again the City of Portland has a start at this, with a blog on the Charter Review project. But that blog is directed at an appointed commission, one step removed from the seat of government power.
Since Metro is about to undertake an update of both our regional land use and transportations plans, and has expressed a desire to do it differently this time, in my capacity as a citizen representative on MPAC (the Metro Policy Advisory Committee), I suggested that the internet outreach component of the project should include an element that let citizens talk to each other, not just send feedback back to Metro. In short, a blog.
The response from staff was underwhelming. Staff expressed concern that moderating a blog would be difficult, and sorting through and summarizing all the citizen input would be very resource intensive.
I intend to keep pushing for the idea, but it appears it will be an uphill climb...
This alert hit TriMet's e-mail list yesterday. Under the semi-automatic diesel cost response plan that TriMet instituted earlier in the year, a nickel fare increase is being proposed, and another nickel is possible.
This would put an all-zone fare at $2.00 or $2.05.
May 24, 2006
An important component of Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan update is to plan for outcomes, not just develop a project list. Metro’s Discussion Draft 2035 RTP Update Work Program states:
The clear desire is to move away from a plan that is a compilation of locally desired projects with an unfunded cost, to one that focuses on delivering specific results (e.g., outcomes) that citizens value (e.g., priorities) at a price they are willing to pay.
Will Metro be able to do this? Not only is this politically difficult – every jurisdiction and modal advocate wants their project – but it may not be realistic – the ability to post outcomes might not match up with the public’s priorities and willingness to pay.
Consider this very realistic scenario, public opinion research shows that people want:
- To move freely around the region;
- Without congestion; and
- At virtually no additional cost.
No implementation strategy could meet the public’s desires and willingness to pay. The public would have to pay a lot more, double or triple current levels, in order to scratch the surface of congestion in order to meet these desired outcomes.
What should Metro do? I believe that Metro will have to objectively look at the strength of the public’s desires and match them with certain price tags or other regulatory / programmatic approaches. If the public really, really, really wants no traffic Metro will have to create scenarios that could post these results. Metro should analyze innovative and cost-effective techniques that we don’t currently use and move past just lane construction. Of course these tools might be unpopular with the public; what a quagmire.
Metro should also get behind funding approaches that leverage public investments the furthest. For example, due to the way ODOT funds its regions, Metro should push for regional bond measures and pricing tool over state tax increases. Metro should leverage outside sources such as federal monies; in the past this has made light rail and transit a good deal because the bulk of these funds flow right from the USDOT to Metro or the transit agencies. Metro should also analyze how different types of transportation investments create other economic and development investments that could ease traffic congestion.
What are your ideas, how will Metro solve this inevitable rift of public desire, project effectiveness, and willingness to pay?
This hit my mailbox yesterday:
What: "Global Warming in the Pacific Northwest" Seminar When: June 8 & 9, 2006 Where: Grand Hyatt Seattle-- Seattle, WA Global Warming will have a particular meaning for the Pacific Northwest, dependent as the region’s economy and way of life are on the water cycle, on electricity generation technology and fuel choices, and on international trade with predominately Kyoto-compliant partners.
In the absence of federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, states are moving to introduce emission constraints on auto tailpipes and electricity deliveries. The West Coast Governors Global Warming initiative aligns the three West Coast States in an effort that parallels CO2 cap-and-trade emissions control efforts in the Northeast.
You will learn the causes, consequences and regional policy choices regarding Global Warming which will affect everyone in this region.
Washington State Bar Association – Approved for 10.5 General CLE Credits.
Oregon State Bar – Approved for 11.5 General CLE Credits.
Idaho State Bar - Approved for 10.5 General CLE Credits.
That's right, continuing education credits for lawyers for learning about Global Warming. Does it get any more real than that?
The project advisory committee for the Willamette Shoreline transit alternatives analysis is holding a community design workshop:
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:30 pm-8:30 pm
Draft locations for a bus line, rail line, trail and river transit that were developed by the 21-member, citizen project advisory committee will be presented and discussed along with information about the project timeline, possible mitigation measures and future public involvement opportunities.
The Lake Oswego to Portland Transit and Trail Alternatives Analysis is a federally-funded study that will develop and evaluate transit and trail alternatives in the Lake Oswego to Portland corridor and select one or more preferred alternatives to be advanced for further study. The process begins with scoping, the definition of a range of transit and trail alternatives to be considered in the study. The cities of Lake Oswego and Portland, Clackamas and Multnomah counties, the Oregon Department of Transportation and TriMet are partners with Metro in this study.
Riverdale Grade School
11733 SW Breyman Ave., Portland
May 23, 2006
A number of contributors, including guest contributor and economist Joe Cortright, have questioned the assumptions of the Cost of Congestion study.
Today the Portland Tribune editorializes in response to Cortright, and calls for the federal government to name Portland a priority transportation corridor for the economy.
An op-ed in Saturday's New York Times suggests that the current dialog around Global Warming produces lots of anxiety but no action.
How can we challenge our society, here in our region, in our country, or globally, to take meaningful actions?
Portland regularly sends delegations to Vancouver to study their solutions to urban issues. But apparently our neighbors to the north think they can learn a thing or two from us.
No word on whether serpentine operation on the Transit Mall was discussed.
May 22, 2006
Sunday's O had a big spread on biofuels. At the 30,000 foot level, it looks to me like there are three main strategies:
- Biodiesel from reclaimed materials or by-products, e.g., fryer grease
- Biodiesel from purpose-grown crops, like rape-seed or soy beans
- Ethanol from corn
It's less clear to me which of those really pencil. The reclaimed strategy seems to make good economic sense. There seems to be a strong case that corn-based ethanol only works because the federal government so heavily subsidizes corn production. I'm not sure about the purpose-grown biomass crops, but I have heard suggestions that these could be good crops for eastern Oregon.
I'm hoping we have readers who know more about agricultural economics than I do who can comment on this!
Find out at this week's PSU seminar...
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series
Join us for two excellent presentations by PSU MURP Candidates!
Sumi Malik: Exploring Factors Influencing Perceived Walking Distance to Light Rail Transit Stations Erin Wilson: Employer Incentives and Mode Choice
When: Friday, May 26, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
May 21, 2006
Check out the discussion over at Blue Oregon.
May 19, 2006
And he's not talking about traffic safety...
Dear Community Members,
I'm pleased to announce the Street Access for Everyone (SAFE) Initiative. At next week's Council session, I'll be introducing a resolution to find citywide solutions to the issues of street disorder and sidewalk nuisances.
I've been hearing concerns from the business community and residents-downtown and in other neighborhoods-about street disorder: things occurring in our business districts like aggressive panhandling, public drinking, intimidation or harassment, and sidewalk obstruction.
Through this resolution, I'll be creating the SAFE workgroup, comprised of representatives from the police, businesses and social service agencies. By November 1, this group will develop recommendations that preserve the dignity of the homeless while ensuring public safety and livability for Portlanders and people visiting our business areas.
I'm particularly interested in solutions which will get to the root of the problem of street disorder by focusing on community-driven prevention and intervention efforts strategies like neighborhood action plans, partnerships with the police, and basic amenities like public restrooms.
The SAFE workgroup will be holding community forums in June and again in October to seek public input. If you would like to contribute ideas or stay informed of developments and opportunities to give input, please contact email@example.com, or call 823-7715. You can also directly input your idea onto our blog: www.portlandonline.com/mayor/blog.
I hope you will join me in keeping Portland's streets accessible to everyone.
Oil and water are increasingly scarce, crucial to Oregon's economy, and are looming yet solvable issues.
Illahee and partners from government, business and the community have put together a daylong symposium on Friday June 2nd, on Oil, Water and Oregon. http://www.illahee.org/symposium
Our goal is to help businesses, policy makers and citizen leaders expand their understanding of how oil and water will impact our part of the world, and begin the process of finding solutions for our shared energy and water future.
We've pulled together a powerhouse trio of energy and water experts to give us the latest inside look at these resources. And because many of our answers will have to be locally based, we've conscripted another trio of creative Oregon leaders to respond and lead a freewheeling lunch discussion.
Then we roll up our sleeves with thirty Oregon leaders on panels including Oregon's economy, energy innovation, Eastside/Westside water, agriculture, transportation, and community solutions. The goal is to explore how all these sectors can anticipate, adapt and even leverage impending energy and water challenges.
Join us as we explore these two resources that will shape the future of our region. Sign up on line at http://www.illahee.org/symposium, or by calling us at 503-222-2719.
Symposium Agenda, Friday June 2nd, Oregon Convention Center
7:30 AM Registration
8:15 AM Symposium kickoff
8:30 AM Roger Bezdek, energy expert, co-author of "The Hirsch Report"
9:45 AM Peter Gleick, water expert, President of the Pacific Institute
11:00 AM Patrcia Limerick, Historian, Chair of the Center of the American West
Noon - Lunch Panel Response to Morning Keynotes
John Emrick - CEO of Norm Thompson Outfitters
Cameron Healy - Founder and CEO of Kettle Foods
Betsy Johnson - Oregon State Senator
Afternoon Panels (two sets of panels, 1:30-3:00pm, 3:30-5:00pm)
Agriculture (3:30 - 5:00)
Oil and water are crucial resources for Oregon's agricultural sector. How can agriculture anticipate, adapt and even leverage impending energy and water challenges? Featuring:
Ken Bailey, Vice President/CFO, Orchard View Farms
Bill Blosser, President, William Blosser Consulting
Brian Rohter, CEO, New Seasons Market
Moderator: Jennifer Allen, Portland State University
Community & Policy Solutions (3:30 - 5:00)
Energy and water solutions will come from business, government and communities working at various scales, and at various levels of coordination. Panelists will explore a range of community and
policy approaches. Featuring:
Dan Carol, National Steering Committee for the Apollo Alliance
Emily Pollard, Portland Peak Oil
Dan Saltzman, Commissioner, City of Portland
Catherine Thomasson, National Board President, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Greg Wolf, Director, PSU School of Government, Urban & Public Affairs
Moderator: Wendy Radmacher-Willis, Executive Director, City Club of Portland
Economy & Global Trade (1:30-3:00)
Oregon's economy is globally and regionally connected. How will global forces and local changes in energy and water supplies affect the state's businesses and citizens? Featuring:
Phil Berry, Director, Nike Footwear Sustainability Group
Joseph Cortright, Vice President/Economist, Impresa Consulting
Bryan Gooch Redd, President and CEO, Upstream 21
Bill Scott, President, Flexcar
Moderator: Jeff Hammarlund, President, NW Energy and Environmental Strategies
Energy Innovation (1:30 - 3:00)
>From wind to water to solar to biofuels, Oregon is a hotbed of energy innovation. Panelists will explore how we can bring fresh energy ideas from concept to profitability. Featuring:
Tomas Endicott, President, SeQuential Biofuels
Alan Hickenbottom, NW Regional Director, Energy Outfitters
Peter Solomon, Vice President, Momentum Renewable Energy
Moderator: Ted Bernhard, Energy Ventures and Finance Initiative, Stoel Rives
Oregon's Water - East vs. West (3:30 - 5:00)
The American west is water poor, and so is two-thirds of Oregon. In the next fifty years climate change will alter our region's water regime, and Oregonians will reinvent how water is shared, distributed, and used across the state. Featuring:
Gail Achterman, Director, Institute for Natural Resources at OSU
Bruce Aylward, Water Bank Director, Deschutes River Conservancy
Martha Pagel, Water Policy and Management, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
Rick Skaggs, Natural Resources Division Manager, Pacific NW National Laboratory
Moderator: Daniel D. Heagerty, Senior Vice President, David Evans and Associates
Transportation (1:30 - 3:00)
The transportation sector is heavily oil dependent. But Oregonians have a history of out-side-the-box thinking on how we deliver transportation services, from foot to tire, and from rail to rudder. Featuring:
Mia Birk, Principal, Alta Planning + Design
Rex Burkholder, Councilor, Metro Regional Government
Gail Curtis, Manager, Oregon Transportation Plan
Charlie Hales, Vice President of Transit Planning, HDR Engineering
Susie Lahsene, Transportation Planning Manager, Port of Portland
Moderator: Gail Achterman, Commissioner, Oregon Transportation Commission
May 18, 2006
That's right, the mayor of Austin was on Smart City last week (MP3, 23.8M) talking about their success with compact development and energy conservation.
George Bush lived there while he was Governor, right?
May 17, 2006
We had a conversation here last week that kicked off with a quote from Metro President David Bragdon and developed into a series of analogies about cars, roads and congestion.
This kind of stuff often gets us accused of car-bashing. So let me set the record straight. I like cars. My family of 3.5 drivers (0.5 = learner's permit) has two of them. And while I hope to someday get down to one (and a Flexcar membership), I think they're very fine things to have around. They enable incredible flexibility in mobility.
What I think is a problem is over-reliance on the automobile.
For the record, I also enjoy wine (in moderation).
So here's my analogy:
Cars are to wine as over-reliance on the automobile is to drunkenness.
So where does congestion come into this? Congestion is a product of over-reliance, not unlike a hangover. If every ounce of fluid passing my lips was wine, I might expect some negative consequences. Similarly, if we build an environment where almost every trip is by car, we can expect negative consequences.
It doesn't seem unreasonable to think that we could get ourselves to the grocery store, or kids could get to school, without getting into a car.
I don't think that's car-bashing, I think it's moderation.
As reported in the Tribune, apparently drivers in our region have more accidents than our neighbors in Seattle. Maybe we don't get enough practice? The article advances several other hypotheses.
May 16, 2006
On Friday, pollster Adam Davis spoke to City Club's Friday Forum on the topic of the disconnect between leaders and the public (as he put it, between the edges of the bell curve and the bell). No, I didn't ask him a transportation question - I asked about citizenship and the public "commons".
But Ray Polani did ask the transportation question, and the answer was reasonably encouraging. You can hear it here (MP3, 2.9M, 3 min).
Adam's main points:
- People are becoming more inclined to support investment in transit versus highways.
- Many have moved here from regions that have tried spending big bucks on highways, with little benefit.
- Gas prices are making people rethink investment.
- The public still wants a balanced system.
Yesterday's O includes an article indicating that PDOT has violated statutes for putting re-paving projects out to bid (possibly making it a net-neutral PR day for PDOT, they also got named best employer by the Women in Transportation Seminar, as noted in the Daily Journal of Commerce).
This peaked my interest, because I'm currently reading the book Governing by Network, which discusses strategies for delvering government services in hybrid public/private/non-profit-sector arrangements. While I'm only part way through the book, the key idea is that you ask yourself the outcomes-based question: how can I assemble a network that delivers [insert public benefit here]? In this case, "what network of partners and services can we put together to keep Portland's streets up to standards?"
I wonder if asking that question would deliver an answer different than just taking bids on certain classes of repaving projects?
May 15, 2006
In Sunday's Oregonian, Jim Mayer has a provocative article about the future of Light Rail. There's also an accompanying diagram (PDF, 1.4M) of potential future rail expansion opportunities. The article recounts the system's successes, including carrying 25% of east/west commuters to and from downtown and the impact on compact development.
The real success story has been along the westside Blue Line. Sunset Magazine this year called the 260-acre Orenco Station neighborhood built around MAX the nation's "best new 'burb.' "
But the article goes on to cover the challenges of a capital intensive mode in the context of declining Federal participation.
So this may be an opportune time to examine strategic approaches to increasing transit use in the region. As a starting point for discussion, let me throw out a few generic strategies:
- Stay the course: MAX is our high-capacity backbone and we need to keep creatively finding the dollars to build out the network.
- Maximize the financial leverage: put our scarce dollars into bus service to bring transit to more destinations and in more corridors.
- Think local: Streetcar has proven to be effective at fostering compact development (at 1/3 the cost per mile of MAX). Let's build more Streetcar lines to capture local trips with less emphasis on commuting into and out of downtown.
What's your strategy?
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series
Topic: Columbia River Crossing Environmental Impact Statement
Speakers: Doug Ficco, CRC Project Co-Director, Washington State Department of Transportation and Jay Lyman, Consultant Team PM, David Evans and Associates, Inc.
When: Friday, May 19, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
* Most archived seminars are now available for download!
* Watch live video, see future scheduled seminars, and view archives.
* Email questions before or during the seminar: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Join CTS email list.
* We look forward to your feedback. Thank you for your participation!
I-5 is the only continuous north/south interstate highway on the West Coast, providing a commerce link for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the Vancouver-Portland region, I-5 is one of two major highways that provide interstate connectivity and mobility. Operation of the I-5 crossing over the Columbia River is directly influenced by the 5-mile segment of I-5 between SR 500 in Vancouver and Columbia Boulevard in Portland. This segment includes interchanges with three state highways (SR 14, SR 500, and SR 501) and five major arterial roadways that serve a variety of land uses, and provides access to downtown Vancouver, two international ports, industrial centers, residential neighborhoods, retail centers, and recreational areas.
The existing I-5 crossing of the Columbia River consists of two side-by-side bridges, built four decades apart. The crossing, which served 30,000 vehicles per day in the 1960s, now carries more than 130,000 automobiles, buses, and trucks each weekday. The bridges are stretched far beyond capacity—the hours of stop-and-go traffic grow every year. As the metropolitan region grows, mobility and accessibility for automobile, vehicular freight, and transit will decline unless added capacity is provided in the I-5 corridor. An increasing disparity between demand and capacity will lead to longer delays, increased accident rates, and diminished quality of life and economic opportunity.
Now, the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation are leading the Columbia River Crossing project, aimed at improving the mobility, reliability, and accessibility for automobile, freight, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian users of the I-5 corridor. The project is moving through the NEPA process in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Major transportation agencies in the bi-state region also have joined together to coordinate the development of this multi-modal crossing. These agencies include Metro, Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, TriMet, C-TRAN, and the cities of Portland and Vancouver.
In the coming years, the project will evaluate possible solutions to the problems, address design challenges, and deliver a financially feasible solution that strengthens the regional economy and strives to support community livability.
May 12, 2006
The Transit Alternatives Analysis for the eastside is moving toward a recommendation on a "Locally Preferred Alternative" this summer. The recommendation will encompass both a modal choice (Streetcar vs. Bus in this case) and the alignment of streets to be used.
Following Wednesday evening's public hearing (which in turn followed an open house last month and more than a year of meetings by a project advisory committee) Wade Nkruma reports in the Oregonian on the strong support for Streetcar.
Delivered May 10th at the public hearing on the Eastside Transit Alternatives Analysis.
AORTA asserts that all reasonable alternatives for an eastside circulator have not been fully analyzed. The Draft Evaluation Report states in Chapter 2, regarding the No-Build Alternative (page 2-1 paragraph 4), “A ‘best bus’ alternative with further bus system enhancements would not garner public support because it would not have the level of demonstrated economic development impacts that would [be] realized with streetcar”.
We don’t exactly know what the “best bus” alternative is but we suspect that it does not include a trolleybus system, which could demonstrate a similar level of economic development as a streetcar system.
Trolleybuses operate under a fixed guideway and can be valuable land development tools. A trolleybus system is fixed in place and the investment in the power wires gives it the same sense of permanence as streetcar wires and tracks but without the much higher track work costs. Trolleybuses, like streetcars, are quiet and non-polluting. Modern low-floor articulated trolleybuses are similar in capacity, access, acceleration and ride quality as streetcars. If a trolleybus system is given the same preferential signaling and curbside amenities, and operates with frequent all- day service, it will attract ridership similar to that of a streetcar system.
Following are some of the advantages of a trolleybus system (see attached map) over a streetcar system for an eastside circulator:
- Costs much less to build (no tracks; no bridge needed over the UPRR)
- Can cross the Hawthorne Bridge and the UPRR railroad tracks at grade
- Can be built sooner (does not need Caruthers Bridge to complete loop)
- Can operate more compatibly with heavy traffic on streets like MLK, Grand, Broadway and Weidler
- Can respond more effectively to congestion and traffic blockages, since trolleybuses can move one lane over when needed
- Can provide as fast, or faster, travel times between major destinations
- Serves the Keller Auditorium area
- Directly serves Union Station
- Connects to the North Mall
- Possibly lower operating cost (no track maintenance)
- Possibly higher ridership (accesses additional important destinations)
A supplemental Eastside Transit Alternative Analysis that includes a trolleybus system is needed in order to evaluate all reasonable alternatives for this project.
Since the estimated cost of the full loop streetcar systems range from $187 to $204 million, $50 to $66 million short of any identifiable revenue, and cannot be completed until a new bridge across the river is built, there is time to do the supplemental analysis.
Jim Howell , Portland Chapter Chair
This must be what mainstream feels like.
Thursday's Wall Street Journal has an article (sorry, no link, you need a password) in the "Personal Journal" section talking about efforts by cities to attract people to bicycle commuting. The focus is on incentives and end-of-trip facilities. Portland gets a mention, but not a very accurate one:
Eager to reduce traffic james and pollution, cities including Chicago; Louisville, Ky; and Portland, Ore. are adding biking-policy departments at city hall...
Well, that's only about 20 years after the fact.
What's next, Vanity Fair?
May 11, 2006
The May issue of the NW Examiner reports that students at the Pacific NW College of Art are complaining that traffic speeds are unsafe on the newly paved NW 13th Ave.
PNCA students are seeking better enforcement of traffic speed and of failure to obey stop signs. They also want "traffic pacifying devices that will slow the speed of vehicles and increase awareness of our students and visitors who walk within this block."
Before the recent paving, NW 13th was essentially unpaved. It was deeply rutted and pedestrians and vehicles had to navigate old railroad tracks.
Portland Transport reader Craig Bollen commented by e-mail:
The paving has changed the area around the art school. It works differently now. Before kids would be out painting, having lunch, it was being used like a back yard. Now it’s definitely a road. Cars have taken control. I like the idea of the communal road that PDOT was going for on 13th, but it needed better materials to foster a calmer environment. They might have pulled it off by using real and bumpy cobble stone, but the flat concrete just fosters speed. It’s really a shame; the stark concrete and speedy cars have made the area cold and uninviting at least compared to how it used to work.
I remember a few years ago in Antwerp, I saw lots of cafes that had their sidewalk seating not in the sidewalk itself, but on a wooden platform built in the parking strip (and fenced from the traffic).
I compute that the monthly 'rent' on a metered parking space in Portland is $343 ($1.25/hr x 11 hours/day x 25 days paid parking). What uses would have higher value for the square footage?
Updated May 11: PDOT has released their evaluation report (PDF, 72K) of Flexcar's "Pilot" use of on-street parking.
We've had a number of posts here about Flexcar, the carsharing program that has been operating here in Portland for several years (disclaimer, I'm a member, and a happy one).
Until now, Flexcar has enjoyed free use of on-street parking spaces under what PDOT considered a pilot program (not quite free - Flexcar pays the administrative costs of signage, etc. for the spaces).
PDOT has been trying to figure out what to do about this on a permanent basis. They took a run at a policy last year, but decided to leave the 'pilot' in place for another year. The imminent entry of Zipcar (another carsharing company) into the Portland market has apparently motivated PDOT to get going again. PDOT is now seeking feedback on a policy draft. There are several key features to this draft that I'm having trouble with:
- Only allows two carsharing companies to have access to on-street spaces
- Caps companies at 50 spaces each in metered zones (unmetered spaces are not capped)
- Seeks full recovery of foregone meter revenue at spaces in metered zones
First, I don't know why we would limit this to two companies. I think we need the opportunity for the innovation that other companies might offer. For example, I know a company that is working on the idea of a sharing program based on neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). I would hate to think this innovation was locked out because we already had two companies running programs with more traditional vehicles.
Capping spaces in metered zones is self-defeating. These are the zones that have the most intensity of activity and therefore the most opportunity for carsharing. And they are the zones that can benefit most. One study shows that a carsharing vehicle avoids many (up to 15) individually owned vehicles. Also, we are likely to see more metered zones in Portland, as Commissioner Adams pushes neighborhood business districts to look at metering. If we ever get consensus on a parking plan in NW Portland, I think Flexcar would instantly be over its limit.
And full cost recovery ignores the collective benefits of these programs. Sure, they're private for-profit companies. But carsharing members are less likely to own (and drive) private autos and generally make more use of transit. And as I said before, in areas of constrained parking supply like NW Portland, they help reduce demand for on-street spaces.
Of course, Flexcar is not lying down. Their member newsletter suggests a number of talking points to use with the City:
- Flexcar is pleased with the City's favorable evaluation of the reserved, on-street parking program for shared cars and other transit options.
- However, there are problems with the proposed new parking fees and with putting a cap on the number of metered spaces that may be used for transit options.
- The average cost for Flexcars existing spaces would be about $65 per month in the first year and $130 per month in the second year.
- What this means for Flexcar members:
- Loss of convenience. Higher on-street parking costs for Flexcar will result in fewer vehicles being placed in high-demand locations. There would also likely be a shift away from on-street spaces to parking garages, where they are available.
- Higher costs for car-sharers. Flexcar members could face an hourly surcharge to use cars located at on-street parking spots, to cover the cost of the new fees. If cars are moved to parking garages, this new expense would also raise car-sharers rates.
I understand PDOT's dilemma. They don't want multiple companies oversupplying the market to the point that they chew up too many spaces and don't get enough use. They also have legitimate concerns about losing meter revenue, one of PDOT's few sources of operating revenue.
But I have a better idea for a policy to balance the benefits and costs. First eliminate the caps and change the pricing structure to reward efficiency. Pick an optimum utilization target (12 hours per day?) and for cars in spaces that hit the target, keep cost recovery at the administrative recovery level. For vehicles with less utilization, have a sliding scale of cost recovery, with minimally utilized vehicles paying 100% meter revenue recovery.
This encourages the companies to serve their customers efficiently, and punishes over-supply, while still allowing underwriting the public benefits where they are delivered well.
Who has other ideas?
May 10, 2006
TriMet today unveiled an updated plan to relocate buses off the Portland Mall during construction of the Portland Mall Light Rail project. The project is part of the 8.3-mile I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail extension set to begin construction in mid-January 2007.
After receiving hundreds of public comments and completing additional traffic analysis, TriMet updated its Option 1 proposal. Riders wanted service to closely mirror existing Mall operations, keeping buses close together to ensure convenient transfer between lines.
- 19 bus lines will run on 3rd and 4th avenues
- 8 bus lines will run on Columbia and Jefferson streets
- Line 14-Hawthorne will run on SW 2nd Ave and cross the Morrison Bridge before returning to its regular route on SE Hawthorne.
- Other routing or scheduling changes will affect lines 1, 16, 41, 55, 63, 68 and 95.
The plan will keep traffic on these streets moving, provide access to parking garages and accommodate buses during construction. Buses will be relocated between mid-January 2007 until spring 2009. For full plan details visit trimet.org.
TriMet is accepting public comment on the updated bus relocation plan through May 31, 2006:
Call 503-238-RIDE weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Here's an interesting link I picked up from the Word Car Free Network list. Apparently there is an effort to get bicycles and bicycle parts classified as "environmentally preferable products" for purposes of the World Trade Organization, so they can be imported and exported with out tariffs.
I'm not sure what that would mean for cycling here in the region (would Dutch bikes be cheaper here?), but it sounds like a good idea.
May 9, 2006
On today's editorial page, the Oregonian has figured out what the freight community keeps ignoring: shifting SOV drivers to alternate modes is good for freight!
As gas prices hit $3 per gallon, it's not just individual motorists rethinking their way of getting around the region. Businesses are, too. And as an understanding of the region's freight economy dawns on more Portlanders, more will awaken to the inefficiency of gratuitous single-occupancy vehicle trips, chewing up road capacity that the economy needs.
That's what the Netherlands concluded many years ago, driving the country to create a bike-friendly system, taking cars off the roads, freeing precious road capacity for trucks that are vital to the economy. In Portland, some motorists and bicyclists still view each other as adversaries. Last year, when a Portland delegation visited the Netherlands, Dutch officials found that baffling.
Why be at odds? In the Netherlands, people view the transportation system as all working, or maybe we should say rolling, together.
There's no question Portland needs to do a better job of prioritizing transportation improvements that help to move freight. But it would be wonderful if the city's new freight plan also helped change our gears, and our minds, in other directions, too.
It should increase our sophistication about how all the region's transportation modes, glamorous and nitty-gritty, fit together -- and enhance each other.
Hat tip to reader Randy Evans who passed on this link for a European pilot program on managing congestion due to city-center deliveries.
What might a similar program look like here in our region?
Check out the latest thinking on this idea at Friday's PSU Transportation Seminar.
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series
Topic: Designing Oregon's Road User Fee Pilot Test
Speakers: Jill Pearson, Road User Fee Pilot Project Manager, Oregon Department of Transportation; and David Kim, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Oregon State University
When: Friday, May 12, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
May 8, 2006
Our project to get the candidates for Governor to respond to our questionnaire has gone nowhere. Apparently the campaigns get deluged with these things. Only the Westlund campaign was forthright enough to tell us straight up that they weren't going to respond.
But here's an opportunity for a little insight. At the Westside Economic Alliance debate on April 27th, the candidates (at least those in attendance) got asked about the Cost of Congestion report. Courtesy of KUIK which broadcast the debate and shared a recording with us, you can hear their answers (MP3, 2.4M, 6 minutes), which one attendee described to me as "like fish flopping around out of water..."
Here's a brief summary with my commentary:
Ron Saxton: "We do need to add lanes." His solution is to grow the state economy which will provide the revenue for additional investments. Does he think we'll be investing general fund dollars from income tax into transportation? That would be innovative!
Jason Atkinson points the finger at Metro "which you didn't elect." I guess someone should tell Susan McLain that her last several elections were a figment of her imagination. Atkinson's solution is to "increase bonding capacities" but he ran out of time before saying where the revenue to pay off the bonds would come from. He also supports public/private partnerships like the Newberg-Dundee bypass (aka tolling).
Ben Westlund was clear that we need "additional and creative funding mechanisms to put down more lanes, more asphalt."
Kevin Mannix thinks the fix is an attitude change at ODOT, which should "put the roads where the communities need them." So which roads has ODOT built recently in the wrong places?
Like Atkinson, Pete Sorenson apparently wants to shift general fund dollars into transportation, he thinks the answer is higher corporate taxes.
While of course as a 501(c)(3) Portland Transport does not endorse candidates, we might suggest that we all be very afraid...
We've been following the question of where Light Rail might cross the river south of downtown as a case study in how such decisions get made (gradually, not all at once).
Another chapter in the story was presented last week, with Commissioner Adams musing in the Tribune about how Light Rail might benefit the South Waterfront development.
As I said before, one of the dimensions of this struggle will be between the Central East side and South Waterfront wrangling over who will get proximity to the service. This one is a long way from over, but it's fun to watch the skirmishes.
Proving that he can hold two contradictory ideas in his head at the same time, I'm pretty sure that Sam will vote sometime in June for an east-side streetcar alignment that will assume the light rail bridge will be built at Caruthers, where Streetcar can use it to get back to PSU. That's a pretty non-committal vote at this point, because there won't be enough dollars to get Streetcar all the way to OMSI in one bite (for that matter there aren't enough dollars to get Milwaukie Light Rail very far at all yet). So we can watch this one play out for a while.
May 5, 2006
Barring a server crash, sometime in the next hour or so, Portland Transport is going to log its 50,000th visitor.
A few other numbers:
3088 comments ... oops make that 3089
Yesterday afternoon Commissioner Sam Adams (by speakerphone, from Washington, DC, where he was lobbying for transportation funds) convened the Burnside Stakeholders Advisory Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to review two alternative options to the couplet design that will be modeled for their traffic impacts.
The first alternative is the "5-4-3" option, since it narrows Burnside in stages, with 5 lanes immediately west of the bridge, narrowing to 4 lanes further west and finishing with three lanes west of I-405. The major innovation in this plan is providing dedicated left turn lanes. I call this the "left turns without impacting Couch" plan since the major benefit is to provide left turns from Burnside at a variety of locations. What it does for pedestrians, the major beneficiaries of the couplet design, is still unclear.
The design is likely to be strongly opposed by the Portland Business Alliance, because it reduces the "portal capacity" (the ability to bring people downtown) of Burnside since in the 15th to 23rd section there is only one through lane in each direction. I suspect this one is dead on arrival.
The second alternative is the "Mini Couplet". It's like the original design, except that the couplet returns from Couch to Burnside at 8th, rather than at 15th, so it can't bother the nice people at the Henry, who sent a strong contingent to the meeting. So as long as you're prepared to write off the stretch of Burnside from 8th to 15th, this is just great.
Somewhat bizarrely, the study by Kittleson, commissioned by Brewery Blocks developer Gerding/Edlen recommended that Couch be one-way through the Brewery Blocks. So the way this will be modeled, Couch will be one way from 2nd to 15th, but the couplet traffic will be diverted back to Burnside at 8th even though Couch continues as a one way street. They're essentially saying "we like the street design, just don't put all that traffic on it."
Needless to say, the SAC members had some trust issues. I suspect there could well be a full-scale insurrection before this over.
I fear for my neighborhood in NW Portland. We now have two options on the table - the original concept of narrowing the lanes on Burnside to 10 feet to gain some sidewalk width and the new alternative of being the '3' portion of the 5-4-3 . Since the lane narrowing has been opposed by the freight lobby, and the PBA is likely to oppose the 3 lane (one in each direction plus a turn lane) option it is entirely possible that my neighborhood will get stiffed and left with no relief at all.
I intend to keep pushing for modeling of the 2 west/1 east option for this stretch to retain the hope that something can be done.
The traffic impact modeling is scheduled to be completed in June or July (the original plan was June, but may be extended due to requests from the SAC to look at sub-options).
It would seem our contributors don't always agree :-)
Last week, Scott Bricker had an op-ed piece in the Oregonian questioning whether the benefits suggested in the "Cost of Congestion" study were worth the cost.
Yesterday brought another op-ed in the O, this one from another contributor, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder.
Rex counters that while the project list in the study is only a straw man, the impact on our economic prospects is very real and we need to have a conversation about what level of investment IS appropriate to help fuel our economy.
Personally, I keep asking what kind of investments will selectively move goods and services without subsidizing discretionary SOV trips? I'm still waiting for an answer...
May is National Bike Month and Portland Transportation Options wants to celebrate the committed bike commuter and those who might be curious about bike commuting! Options is hosting a Bike to Work Day event on Wednesday, May 17, at the Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.
The event will be held from 7:30 to 9:00 AM. All new bicycle commuters are eligible to enter a drawing for special prizes. All bicyclists are invited to gather at one of five parks around the city and join group rides in to downtown Portland.
The designated starting points for group rides are Duniway Park in SW, Wallace Park in NW, Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland, Grant Park in NE, and Laurelhurst Park in SW. All riders will be served a light continental breakfast on their arrival to Pioneer Square so come celebrate bicycling in Portland with us. For more information please contact Barbara Plummer at email@example.com.
May 4, 2006
Last Saturday my partner and I headed down to Corvallis for the "Envision Oregon" meeting sponsored by 1000 Friends, CLF, the Bus Project and a host of other organizations. It's the beginning of a process to re-vision what we want for our state and how our land use system can be structured to get us there in a way that works for a strong majority of Oregonians.
We had two "table group" exercises. One was about what we valued about Oregon, the other was about visioning the future - what we wanted, what we didn't, and what we thought would happen.
Interestingly, transportation rarely came up in the first exercise. I think that makes sense, transportation is a means, not an end. But transportation was a common theme in the future visions. In particular, high-speed inter-city public transportation (e.g., High Speed Rail) was a common theme of visions for the future of the state.
Let's hope the legislature is listening. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to get involved in the Envision Oregon process. There will be lots of meetings around the state and many ways to get plugged in (including online). Check it out.
Spring brings repaving, and repaving on NW 18th and 19th in my neighborhood means the permanent installation of sharrows! We got temporary markers last fall, but now the real things are going in. Yeah!
But this one has me confused. This is NW 18th northbound just before Everett St. (sorry for the cell-phone quality photo). The right-only turn lane forces cars off on Everett to create the space where the bike lane starts just after Everett.
As a cyclist going north, I'm not sure what I'm legally supposed to do. Pre-sharrows, I would have put my bike in the right edge of the left-hand through lane, since the right lane is turn-only.
But the sharrows would seem to say I should be in the right lane. Indeed, the sharrows line up perfectly with the line of travel for the bike lane that starts after Everett. Is it legal for me to use the right lane even though I'm not turning?
Is our bicycle coordinator reading this? Or maybe Ray Thomas? Help!
May 3, 2006
Listen to the show (mp3, 11.7M)
Hosts Sara and Ayleen interview Dumpster Dave about his uncanny knack for finding screaming deals on bike gear, and consequently, his upcoming bike swap meet at Free Geek. They also inteview Dabby, a longtime local bike messenger. Dabby offers insight into the world of velo delivery and a culture that often seems like a tough nut to crack.
Following a tragic pedestrian death in January, the NW District Association asked PDOT to implement a number of safety improvements, including striping crosswalks at all intersections on NW 21st and NW 23rd.
PDOT has issued a draft report in response to this request. While the report does recommend a number of safety improvements, most importantly posting the streets for 20 miles-per-hour, it recommends against marking additional crosswalks.
While it's clear to me that the speed limit is going to have much more impact on safety than the crosswalks, I am nonetheless extraordinarily frustrated by the crosswalk recommendation. NWDA had a fallback request, to just stripe the intersections where curb extensions have been installed to make pedestrian (and bicycle) crossings easier. PDOT also recommends against this. In essence PDOT's position seems to be that crosswalks are a nice tool to show the pedestrians where to walk, but we don't want to train drivers to respond to them, since we'd be training drivers to ignore their duty to yield to pedestrians at all intersections.
The are several very good reasons to maintain the status quo practice of marking uncontrolled intersections only when special circumstances exist. First, drivers must recognize that pedestrians can legally cross (and will) at unmarked crosswalks. No matter how aggressive a practice we pursue for marking crosswalks in high activity areas, there will still be thousands of unmarked crosswalks in the City. We do not want drivers to infer that marked crossings are the only locations where they need to be alert for pedestrians crossing the street.
Even more infuriating is a cost argument:
Secondly, our maintenance resources are very constrained and service levels have already been reduced as system growth has outpaced maintenance resources. Without an increase in resources for pavement marking maintenance, a more aggressive practice for marking crosswalks is not sustainable. It is questionable to consider expanding our pavement marking assets significantly if the resources are not available to maintain these assets in acceptable condition. Finally, the safety benefits of the alternatives are very marginal and the benefits would probably fall short of break-even in a benefit/cost test.
The estimate to stripe crosswalks in business districts similar to NW 23rd across the city is $300K, with $85K in annual maintenance. Having just served on the PDOT Budget Advisory Committee, where we found more than $6M in savings, I am confident that finding $85K annually is not beyond the ingenuity of PDOT's management team.
What frustrates me is that we're creating a culture of ignoring pedestrians. I've collected photos around the country and around the world of pedestrian crossing treatments. Other jurisdictions don't appear to be afraid to call out pedestrian crossing sites, and I think we're absolutely blowing it by failing to emphasis places where we want pedestrians to have priority.
Commissioner Adams is meeting with the neighborhood next week, and I hope our Commissioner of Transportation can start changing this culture.
On the upside the report does point out that new signage has recently been approved that can be placed on the center-line in pedestrian crossings. I hope we'll start seeing these pop up all over the city. It would be a good step in changing the culture.
Our own Steve Gutmann, a past Portland Transport contributor (now on to fame in national sales for Flexcar), is one of the guests on this week's Smart City radio program.
In fact, this week's episode has a lot of Portland content, clearly influenced by Carol's trip here last month. Joe Cortright is also a guest, talking about housing costs and other urban economic issues.
Let's all call OPB and ask them to start broadcasting Smart City here.
May 2, 2006
In Sunday's Oregonian, Jim Mayer reports that a study of the tolling options for building the Newberg Dundee bypass concludes that the most efficient revenue model would require tolling BOTH the new bypass and the existing route on 99W.
The study (PDF, 711K), prepared by the Oregon Transportation Investment Group (the local arm of Australian-based Macquarie Infrastructure Group) raises a number of interesting policy and funding issues:
- Toll pricing ranging from $0.18 to $0.30 per mile, or $1.98 to $3.30 for a trip through the corridor
- Potential discounts for local users
- Creation of an electronic tolling system that would become the standard for use on future toll roads in Oregon
- Possibly extending the project in a number of directions, including subsuming the proposed I-5/99W connector
The price tag for the bypass is estimated (no serious engineering has been done) at $325 to $425 million, while the I-5 connector would be over half a Billion.
Next step, more detailed study of project costs...
Update: Apparently they found the concrete. The bridge will be closed Tuesday to Friday.
The Burnside Bridge will be closed to road traffic from 8:00 pm on Tuesday, May 2 until 6:00 am on Friday, May 5 to allow a contractor to pour a concrete sidewalk on the new lift span deck.
Update: the closure has been cancelled do to a 'concrete supply issue'. Maybe a Chinese project outbid us...
Look for alternate routes through Monday, that concrete has to cure:
The Burnside Bridge is scheduled to be closed to road traffic from 8:00 pm on Friday, April 28 until 6:00 am on Tuesday, May 2 to allow a contractor to pour concrete for a section of sidewalk on the new lift span deck. The bridge is in the midst of a two-year repair project which will replace the lift span deck and repair or replace parts that open the 79-year old bridge.
The bridge closure is needed for the contractor to pour the sidewalk and for the new concrete to harden without vibrations from traffic, which could lead to cracks in the new sidewalk.
Last weekend the bridge was closed for the contractor to pour concrete for the first section of new deck. Construction specifications require the new concrete deck to cure for one week before concrete is poured for the adjoining sidewalk.
The closure will impact motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. During the closure TriMet bus routes 12, 19 and 20 will use the Morrison Bridge. The bridge will also be closed to river traffic from 8:00 pm on Friday until 5:00 am on Saturday. The bridge will remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists except for during the concrete placement on Saturday morning.
The work is weather dependent. If heavy rains prevent work on Friday night, the work will be rescheduled for Saturday or the first day when weather conditions permit.
The Friday seminar at PSU this week will be about neighborhood traffic calming, a perennial favorite:
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series
Topic: Neighborhood Traffic Calming: From Investigation to Implementation
Speakers: Kevin Chang, King County Department of Transportation
When: Friday, May 5, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
May 1, 2006
The rising demand for and declining supply of oil will likely have tremendous impacts on land use and transportation planning efforts in the Portland region for decades to come.
This will be an issue of ongoing concern to Metro as we work with the public, businesses and other governments to shape regional transportation planning and growth management policies in the years ahead. Increasing volatility in oil prices could have serious effects on every industry, from health care to agriculture to high technology, and it may impact citizens¹ commuting options, home heating sources, and other uses of oil as well. How we as a region respond through our transportation and land use policies to the growing uncertainty in the supply and cost of oil will have a direct impact on our economy and quality of life for many years to come.
At my request, Metro policy associate Daniel Lerch developed a white paper outlining some of the policy challenges and opportunities the region faces if we wish to maintain our quality of life in the face of a more unstable and more expensive supply of oil. The white paper discusses how Metro may respond to future uncertainty in the supply and price of oil. It identifies oil supply uncertainty as a timely risk management issue and establishes a basis for the Metro Council to consider possible policy and program responses.
It is clear that we will need to be prepare for uncertainty in the supply of oil in our transportation and land use planning decisions.
I came across an interesting blog post from a family trying to live car-free for a year.
One of the interesting aspects is getting the kids to various places. This launches into the topic of "stranger danger", the fear that someone is going to abduct our kids. Certainly I know that when our kids were younger, they did not have the same range of self-mobility that I had when I was their age (lo those many years ago). Yet the statistics on abduction by a stranger show that the real risk is much lower than many other risks we accept regularly.
I wonder how much of our congestion is due to parents driving kids on trips that they could really make themselves on foot, by bike or on transit? The consequences in terms of childhood obesity and other health issues are very real as well.
I wonder if this is going to change with technology (or with peak oil)? As the post mentions, there are a range of new technologies coming online that will let you track your child's location via GPS (including implantable devices!). Will this put parents' minds at rest and let kids take more trips under their own steam? I want to be hopeful about this...
Mark your calendars. This Wednesday (May 3) there is an open house at Metro (room 370) from 4 to 7pm to review options for circulator transit service from dowtown to the east side. Options include Streetcar and a bus circulator (or doing nothing at all).
There will also be a public hearing on May 10th (5-7pm) at the Portland Building on the same topic, leading up to a recommendation on a locally preferred alternative.
Learn more at http://www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?articleid=13800.