September 29, 2006
Here we go again, the bienniel food fight over the region's flexible transportation funds, otherwise known as the MTIP process.
In fact, you'll read another contributor this morning advocating for including a project on the first cut list.
So gear up for the public process component for the final cut:
Comment on transportation projects
The public is invited to comment on projects to fund through Metro?s Transportation Priorities 2008-11, a regional process to schedule distribution of approximately $45.4 million in federal transportation funds. A 45-day comment period will open with release of a first cut project list on October 13, 2006, and end on December 1. The four listening posts shown below will be held in different parts of the region where people may comment in person. To ensure that oral testimony is accurately recorded, we encourage people to also submit their comments in writing.
5 p.m. Thursday, November 9
East Multnomah County
Gresham City Hall Building
Springwater Trail Room
1333 NW Eastman Parkway, Gresham (MAX)
5 p.m. Monday, November 13
Beaverton Community Center
12350 SW Fifth St, Beaverton (TriMet buses 57 and 76)
5 p.m. Tuesday, November 14
Pioneer Community Center
615 Fifth St., Oregon City (TriMet buses 76, 78, and 88)
5 p.m. Thursday, November 16
Metro Regional Center
600 NE Grand Avenue, Portland (TriMet bus 6 and MAX)
Comments may also be submitted by Email: email@example.com
US Mail: Ted Leybold, Metro Planning Dept., 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland, OR 97232
The list of projects will be posted on the Metro website at www.metro.org beginning October 13, 2006.
September 28, 2006
I didn't even notice until this afternoon, but sometime last night we slipped past 100,000 visitors!
This month the KBOO Bike Show will feature a special membership drive program with guest host Tim Carver discussing the Springwater Trail and his other favorite off-street paths. We talk on the phone with children participating in National Bike and Walk to School Day.
9-10AM, Wednesday, October 4th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
A few weeks ago I wrote about the SkyLink at DFW airport, and the attributes that made it an almost ideal transit system (high frequency, grade-separated right of way, central control reducing operator costs, etc.).
Visiting Vancouver, it was interesting to see how many of these attributes SkyTrain possesses. Three minute headways during peak commute hours was pretty impressive.
But, in reality it's not obviously superior to MAX. The infrastructure has a HUGE visual impact on the areas it travels through. And it's only considered medium-capacity transit. The vehicle capacity is significantly lower than MAX, although the frequency offsets this.
It's also more expensive. They are actually planning a Light Rail spur line to feed SkyTrain from one of the suburbs because it will cost 1/4 or 1/3 of what SkyTrain would.
Still, it's an impressive system. I was particularly struck with the attention to security. There are cameras everywhere and each window has a panic button strip that is supposed to summon help within 3 minutes. That would be a nice addition to MAX.
And that river crossing would be a great model for the proposed Caruthers Crossing Light Rail bridge.
Part of the Willamette Shoreline transit analysis is providing a trail through the corridor. This sometimes tends to get overlooked while haggling over the potential transit options.
But the trail moves front and center at workshop next week:
Community Design Workshop
When: October 3, 2006
7:00 – 8:30 p.m. (drop in any time)
Where: Adult Community Center, Alder Room
505 G Avenue, Lake Oswego
September 27, 2006
Following up on Rex' post yesterday, here's yet another perspective on congestion.
Todd Litman up at the VTPI has produced two complimentary reports that revisit a lot of assumptions about how to cope with congestion (hint: widening roads isn't necessarily the answer). Both are well worth the read.
- Smart Congestion Reductions: Reevaluating The Role Of Highway Expansion For Improving Urban Transportation (PDF, 219K)
- Smart Congestion Reductions II: Reevaluating The Role Of Public Transit For Improving Urban Transportation (PDF, 133K)
Over at Transit Sleuth, Adron has published his thoughts on how to make the Portland Streetcar faster.
Signal pre-emption at every intersection. That's a pretty clear statement about priorities!
September 26, 2006
The Fall seminar series is starting this Friday:
Speaker: Yibing Wang, Technical University of Crete
Topic: A Generic Approach to Real-time Freeway Network Traffic Surveillance
When: Friday, September 29, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (www.pdx.edu/map.html)
Jonathan Schlueter of the Westside Economic Alliance passed out some interesting information at this month's transportation committee meeting, showing the increase in motor vehicle registration over the past 30 years.
In 1975, there were about 2.3 million people living in Oregon. They owned about 386 Thousand cars. That's one vehicle for every 6 people.
In 2004, there were about 3.6 million people living in Oregon, owning 3.2 million vehicles. Just over 1.1 people per vehicle.
In 30 years, people population grew 56% and motor vehicle population grew 280%, more than 5 times as fast.
There are many factors that prompted this radical shift, including rising incomes, availability of easy credit, and women entering the workforce. But the greatest impact was freeway-caused suburbanization, which made driving a necessity. (I-5 plowed through Portland in the 1960's).
(another interesting fact: each day there are 121 new motor vehicle registrations in Oregon: 14 in Clackamas County, 5 in Multnomah, and 21 in Washington County.)
Transportation Options is hiring for a limited term Transportation Demand Management Specialist I to work on our Portland Smart Trips - Downtown program. This program is modeled after our successful individualized marketing programs called the Eastside Hub and Northeast Hub. We will be working with downtown employers and their employees to encourage more people to walk, bike and take transit especially during the next two years during light rail construction on our downtown mall. Please pass this on to your contacts and lists. Thanks.
1120 SW 5th Avenue, 8th Floor
Portland OR 97204
FAX (503) 823-7475
September 25, 2006
Photo courtesy Kirsty Hall
Photo courtesy Kirsty Hall
As happens all to often, I procrastinated and Jonathan got the story first. Check out his post on BikePortland.org about the Older Adult Three-Wheeled Bicycle Program. What a great way to keep our honored citizens mobile and healthy.
You can also hear Program Directory Kirsty Hall talking about the program on the podcast of last month's KBOO Bike Show.
The City of Portland is sponsoring a "Smart Living" class on brewing your own biodiesel:
Smart Living Class Biodiesel Conversion
Wednesday, September 27
Sabin Middle School
4013 NE 18th (2 blocks north of Fremont)
Fuel up your vehicle with vegetable oil? Entrepreneur, lecturer and author of "Power From the People" Brian Jamison will take class participants through the steps of brewing their own fuel from vegetable oil and offer practical tips on using biodiesel.
More details here.
The next meeting of the Columbia River Crossing Task Force will be September 27 from 4-8pm at the WSDOT offices in Vancouver.
Key agenda items will include:
- Preliminary Design Concepts – Part Two
- Report on Existing Interstate Bridge
- Report on US Coast Guard Hearing
Full details available on the meeting materials page of the project web site.
We've previously discussed that growing canola in Eastern Oregon is potentially a viable source of seed oil for biodiesel production.
But apparently it's not a slam dunk as far as the Legislative E-board (the body that hands out funds between legislative sessions) is concerned ("A dust-up crops up over biofuel study").
There are concerns that canola mono-culture could harbor destructive pests and that canola could cross-pollinate with other brassicas (cabbage, etc.) to the detriment of the other crops.
"This is dangerous," said Sen. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby. "There's no reason on God's green earth to introduce a known weed and carrier of pests."
But Rep. Susan Morgan, R-Myrtle Creek, countered that people are just as passionate on the other side about biodiesel and biofuels.
"This is information that would very much enrich the policy discussions the Legislature will have around biofuels," she said.
Ultimately the E-board voted 10-7 to approve $235,000 for a pilot program.
When not consulting or teaching computer classes, MJ Coe spends his time as a board member of the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association, as President of Portland Progressive Toastmasters, and as a member of the Sullivan's Gulch Corridor Steering Committee.
Travel down the I-84 corridor/Banfield Highway between the Convention Center and Gateway during rush hour, and what do you see? (Besides brake lights and gridlock, that is). Well, you'll see two sets of adjacent railroad tracks -- light rail and freight. Anything missing here? What about all those overgrown weeds and blackberries sitting idly by the side, doing absolutely nothing?
A group of east-side citizen activists have a vision for reclaiming that industrial wasteland, and creating something useful, productive and special for our region. It's called The Sullivan's Gulch Corridor -- a proposed multi-modal transportation path for bicyclists, pedestrians, and others, running through the heart of our region. Considered by many as a "missing link" to an important east-west alternative transportation network, this corridor will connect downtown Portland and the Willamette River with Gateway, Rocky Butte, the I-205 Bike Path/Springwater Corridor network, Portland International Airport, Gresham, and beyond.
Just imagine a trek along this new corridor section...you've just gotten off work in the Lloyd District, or you're headed from a new Gateway community development center to the Rose Garden for a concert. You enter the corridor where a state-of-the-art bioswale is capturing rainwater runoff -- water that would normally be taxing our storm drainage system and polluting the Willamette River. Blackberries have been replaced by native plant species, and you're beginning to notice more and more bird songs on your route.
You pass innovative community developments of mixed retail, affordable housing and commercial ventures that encourage alternative modes of transportation. You're happy that you're not on the Banfield Freeway as you pass the traffic gridlock below. Your property values continue to rise.
You seem to have more energy now that you've decided to walk or ride your bike to work.
And it's so much easier, safer, and quicker now to get to all parts of the city...
Our region is preparing for the growth of nearly one million citizens in the next 25+ years. A project of this magnitude and quality will be a valuable asset for meeting many of our regional growth goals, i.e.; strategic infill, economic development, innovative community development projects, alternative modes of transportation that promote the health of its citizens...where work, life and play are all in closer proximity. Quality of life issues can be addressed, like clean air and water quality standards, abundant nature experiences, healthier citizens gaining less weight, expanded greenways...all contributing to the livability of our region.
The Sullivan's Gulch Corridor Steering Committee is currently soliciting support for this exciting project from neighborhood, and business associations, as well as public/private stakeholders along the corridor. For more specifics, please visit the corridor's web page at:
There you will find links to an online brochure (.pdf Acrobat Reader file), a map (web page), and an online powerpoint presentation.
Your support for this project is needed soon. Our regional public officials are currently in the process of deciding which alternative transportation projects will be funded in the foreseeable future. The Sullivan's Gulch Corridor Steering Committee is asking that our regional representatives recommend allocating federal transportation (MTIP) funds totaling $250,000 to start a master planning process. Your letters of support and public testimony during the public comment period starting mid-October at METRO with help get this project rolling. For more information on how you can offer support, or become involved in this project, please contact any of the following steering committee members:
MJ Coe: firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-233-1911 Brad Perkins: email@example.com, 503-317-6455 Dan Lerch-Walters: firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-284-7605
September 22, 2006
This morning's Tribune has a summary of last week's Metro-sponsored trip to Vancouver, B.C.
The article highlights a lot of Vancouver's achievements, but there's one bit of ugly that hasn't been remarked on.
In the neighborhood business districts we visited the speeds were routinely 50kph (30mph) and the streets were generally engineered so that drivers drove faster than that. Beyond safety issues, one effect of this is that the districts were very noisy. In contrast, Portland's business districts (e.g., Hawthorne, NW 23rd) would generally be either 25mph or 20mph.
And downtown Vancouver's one-way traffic grid is also timed for about 30mph. In contrast, Portland's downtown grid is signalized for 12-18mph.
We didn't get a chance to discuss this in detail with local planners, but I wonder if it's a legacy of Vancouver not bringing their freeways into the urban core, perhaps creating pressure to keep arterials and collectors operating at higher speeds?
One of the incidental pleasures from our Vancouver, B.C. trip was seeing this bike box on Dunsmuir Street in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
This is a tool we have not embraced yet to any significant degree in Portland (I think we have a pilot somewhere), but is common in the Netherlands. At intersections, bikes can move to the front on a red light and gather in this box ahead of the rest of the traffic. When the light turns green, the bikes can immediately clear the intersection, without having to worry about cars turning right across their path.
Yesterday's Daily Journal of Commerce has an article on nonprofit Cascade Sierra Solutions, which is planning to open five technology centers on the I-5 corridor between California and Washington. The organization will install and finance energy savings and emmissions reduction equipment on trucks.
The stores will offer more than 40 fuel-saving products at manufacturers' group-rate discounts and help qualified truckers fill out the paperwork for tax rebates and small business loans to finance the technology upgrades.
September 21, 2006
The Big Look Task Force has posed a series of questions to different organizations.
While they didn't specifically invite Portland Transport to submit answers, that never stopped us before. Here's a subset of the list that readers might want to share their perspective on:
- In the absence of the federal funding which underwrote much suburban sewer, water, and road-building in the mid-to-late 20th century, what new mechanisms are needed to provide infrastructure given modern fiscal circumstances?
- Are existing finance mechanisms sufficient to support the infrastructure required to support expected growth either within urban growth boundaries or in expansion areas added to urban growth boundaries? Are particular financial tools needed to reflect Oregon’s emphasis on encouraging more growth within urban growth boundaries?
- Do existing finance mechanisms place the burden of the fees or taxes appropriately on those that benefit? In instances where fees or taxes are collected in one area to build, operate or maintain facilities for another area, is that transfer transparent and implemented for an intended public policy reason, or merely a hidden cross-subsidy?
- Do existing fees and taxes reinforce or undermine adopted land use plans? In particular how do the property tax system post-Measures 5, 47, and 50 influence land use? How do the calculations guiding assessment of SDCs and the expenditure of their proceeds influence the use of land?
Good to know they haven't oversimplified things :-)
There's a new transportation blog out there, PDX Transit:
PDXTransit is a website that discusses transit, commuting, and mobility in Portland Oregon Metropolitan vicinity. We focus on local trends, events, emerging technologies that will improve how Portlanders "Walk, Drive, Bike, and Ride" around the city.
Welcome to the block!
A recent post highlights PDOT's Shopping by Bike program.
(via the Coalition for a Livable Future newsletter - I hope the registration deadline is somewhat flexible)
The Worldwatch Institute, Oregon Environmental Council, Illahee, and the Sightline Institute present:
Breaking our Addiction to Oil
Christopher Flavin President, Worldwatch Institute
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
7:00-8:00 pm Wine and Dessert Reception
8:00-9:30 pm Speaking Program
Multnomah Athletic Club
1849 SW Salmon Street
Portland, Oregon 97205
$25 for general admission, $20 for students with valid ID at the door.
Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, September 20th.
To register please click on this link: http://www.worldwatch.org/press/portlandeventreg
September 20, 2006
There's a nice piece in the Daily Journal of Commerce today about the improvements to 3rd and 4th Avenues.
One highlight is the "festival street" design:
But the gems of the project are the Northwest Davis and Flanders "festival streets," designed and detailed by project urban designer Lloyd Lindley. The streets have no curbs -granite bollards make the distinction between roadway and sidewalk - and can be closed easily to traffic for events.
Although Portland has spaces that function as barricade-ready party streets - such as Northwest 13th Avenue and the block between Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Portland Center for Performing Arts - the Flanders and Davis festival streets are a new concept for the city.
"It will be really interesting for us to see how that operates when it's fully complete and people have time to get used to the idea of a street that looks like a park but is open to traffic," said Ellen Vanderslice, Office of Transportation project manager. "... Portland, as a city, has been willing to take some risks with how we use our public right of way. This is just another way of looking at that."
I need to go down and get some photos!
OK, maybe more like writer's laziness.
I've been asked to write an article for the next issue of the Coalition for a Livable Future newsletter on the RTP Update. I'm looking for suggestions or important decision issues for the Regional Transportation Plan to write about. Here's the beginning of my list:
- How do we pay for the improvements we want?
- Can we begin to prioritize some trips over others?
What else should I be thinking about?
There's a new report available about attitudes toward transportation in Washington County (PDF, 669K), based on data collected from 403 interviews this spring.
There are a number of interesting tidbits in this report:
- Transportation issues are top-of-mind for two-thirds of respondents. Education was second at 34%.
- The system is better than it was ten years ago, but roads are under-funded.
- The average commute among respondents is 12.6 miles [contrast this to a regional average of 7 miles, as quoted by Rex Burkholder] and longer commutes breed dissatisfaction.
- Hillsboro has the highest MAX usage, at 22%.
- More people walk to work (12%, at least part way), than bike (6% at least once a week).
- Efficient use of tax dollars is an important value.
- Residents are split down the middle on mass transit spending: 49% oppose it and 47% favor it.
- System Development Charges are the most commonly mentioned source for funding transportation.
That's an interesting puzzle to figure out!
September 19, 2006
The results are in, and it's a split decision. Read about it on Gordon Price's blog.
Original Post: 8/30/06
An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal describes a test of a congestion pricing system in Stockholm.
But unlike the system in London, which charges a flat rate for entering the city center with a car, the system in Stockholm employs dynamic pricing. The price will vary with the level of congestion.
Voters will be polled shortly to see if they want to retain the system.
This weekend the good folks at SHIFT will be hosting Car Free Days 2006. SW Ankeny Street between
3rd and 4th 2nd and 3rd Avenues will be closed to cars for festivities from Friday evening through Sunday.
Yes, this is a pretty small area that will be car free, but there's a method to the madness. There's a proposal to make this street segment car free on a permanent basis.
So come down and check out the fun. You can get all the details at http://www.portlandcarfreeday.org/
Here's a fun Google Maps mashup from Southern California.
Hat tip to Kari
Chilsom Chisholm for the pointer.
September 18, 2006
That's right. The Sellwood Bridge now has its very own web site, courtesy of County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey.
One interesting finding from last week's junket to Vancouver, B.C. is the range of transit vehicles in use, from SkyTrain (more on SkyTrain in another post) and catamaran ferries to trolley buses and more traditional diesel buses.
I was struck by the use of smaller diesel buses. When I inquired, I was told that these were used on somewhat lower ridership routes. They are branded as "Community Shuttles" and are popular both because they more easily integrate with neighborhood scale, and because they are more social (on a smaller bus you're more likely to interact with the driver and fellow passengers - something I've noticed on the small buses SMART uses on some runs).
When I've been in neighborhood conversations where TriMet was asked about smaller buses, the answer has always been that the operating costs are essentially the same as a larger vehicle because the operator labor costs are the major driver. So I was very interested to hear that in Vancouver, the union had allowed a separate pay tier for operators of smaller buses. I didn't dive into this, but I'm guessing that they hoped to get a few more jobs out of it. I wonder if the skill/training requirements are less for the smaller buses.
My two cents is that if people want to do this, fine, but no rational social policy would focus on making it easy.
September 15, 2006
I'm in Vancouver, B.C. today with a group from Metro studying how they have made their regional centers work. They've achieved a lot more density in their centers than we have in ours.
Here's a streetscape photo from one of their centers, a place roughly equivalent to Beaverton or Gresham. You can see that there's a lot more density on this street than we have in either of those centers.
The streetscape is relatively attractive. One reason is that there is no structured parking visible! All the off-street parking is underground.
Rob passes on this link to a story in the Daily Journal of Commerce speculating on how Measure 48 spending limits could impact transportation.
September 14, 2006
Buried deep at the bottom of the 'web only' murmurs at Willamette Week (yes, that's how far I'll go to find a blog topic) is a note that Randy White is starting a carpool matching site: carpoolcrew.com
But don't we already have a carpool matching site in our region?
Indeed, we do. But Randy apparently thinks that a site that lets you stay anonymous until you have a match is not going to do the trick. He suspects folks want to know more about their potential commute partners. His site wants to know your radio preferences, gender, whether you smoke, etc. There's even a place to upload your photo or link to your MySpace page.
Yesterday's O reports that the motorists involved in two incidents that resulted in the deaths of three cyclists will NOT face criminal charges.
In Oregon, killing someone through negligent operation of your car is not a crime. Unlike the wildly progressive State of Idaho, Oregon does not have a Vehicular Homicide statute.
A job for the next session of the Legislature?
Can we have safe roads if we don't hold vehicle operators responsible for their actions? [Yes, this should include cyclists who harm pedestrians or other cyclists.]
Up in Vancouver, B.C. (where I will be for the next couple of days, with a group from Metro), Gordon Price is complaining that a proposed bridge will cause land use and transportation problems throughout the region that the proponents refuse to acknowledge or analyze.
Gee, I can't think of anything like that down here.
September 13, 2006
While traveling on the East Coast last week, I had a chance to see tolling technology from an up-close and personal perspective. Unfortunately, as I was in a rental car, I got to see the advantages of the technology from the slow lane.
New Hampshire uses the E-ZPass system (accepted in 11 states), while Massachusetts employs the Fast Lane system (proprietary to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, possibly just a private-labeled implementation of one of the commercial systems?). An important point is that these systems tend to inter-operate with each other, so you only need to invest in one transponder.
The big benefit to the consumer of course (the one I couldn't enjoy) is to just drive through the gates, without having to pick up tickets or pay tolls.
How does payment work? You provide a credit card number, and they take $25 to fund your 'account'. When the balance in your account gets low, they hit your credit card again to top it off at $25.
Tuesday's Trib looks at commuting by car in our region from several points of view:
- Which commute is the worst
- Suburban traffic presents a few twists
- Traffic jams don 't stop the data flow
My favorite statistic from this collection of stories is quoted by Rex Burkholder: the average commute in 1990 was ten miles, in 2000 it was seven miles. It seems to me that our effort (i.e., the 2040 plan) to reorganize the region to let people lead their lives in a more compact and sustainable fashion is making some progress.
Cross-posted from the SHIFT list. Lend a hand and help make it a great event.
Portland Carfree Day!
September 22-24, 2006
SW Ankeny between 2nd and 3rd
As you can see, Carfree Day will be a whole weekend long this year.
We'll be turning this downtown street into a car-less plaza, and will be providing entertainment and education at various points during the weekend.
Saturday the 23rd will be the big night, featuring the 20 Foot Man (who is everything you could imagine) and other exciting, danceable local acts.
Friday night will feature food and community. Saturday and Sunday during the day, we'll provide a mellow place to hang out on pillows and chairs and listen to acoustic music and sound experiments.
This weekend will be the first step in permanently shutting that segment of SW Ankeny to car traffic!
Put this on your calendar now! And if you'd like to get involved, let me know:
We're currently seeking:
- volunteers who can help out leading up to the event or during the weekend
- food and coffee to serve to volunteers (and maybe others)
- people to perform loudly on Saturday night
- people to perform quietly during the days
- your ideas and desires for the weekend!
If you'd like to help, reply to email@example.com and I'll pass it on to Elly.
September 12, 2006
OK, I caught up on my reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author takes us through not just the financial investment we put in our cars, but also the time, energy and angst we put in to maintaining them, and convincingly makes the case that we're better off without.
But that's only the beginning. Balish shows how being car free actually improves your social life (you're more likely to organize things like joint shopping trips with friends, rather than drive those errands solo).
He also has practical strategies for making it work, like the Triple Redundancy approach to having three ways to get to work (mine would be bike-on-bus, bus-only, Flexcar). And he has strategies to cover a whole range of non-work situations as well. Wife about to give birth? No problem, rent a car for the month, reserving well in advance to get a low monthly rate. This is about not owning a car, not about never driving one.
He also points out how many trips are avoidable or just unnecessary if you take the time to think about it (not unlike my recent experience).
There are quotes from many car-free folks, several from Portlanders, including two from Portland Transport contributors (you'll have to read the book to find out who).
And the cartoons by Andy Singer are terrific.
But overall, my best impression of the book is that he makes the case for a car-free life being a joyfully care-free life, not a life of restrictions.
I nominate it for Hawthorne Blvd.
September 11, 2006
Finishing up a visit to the East Coast, I'm reminded again about my strong feelings about the way we treat crosswalks in Portland.
We're told by the engineers that adding crosswalks gives pedestrians a false sense of security. As an engineering principle, that may have some validity (although new studies question it).
But it's simply the wrong frame. This is not about engineering. It's about instilling a culture among drivers that you stop as soon as a pedestrian puts a foot in the crosswalk.
It's not hard. You just have to keep reinforcing the point. This series of photos from New Hampshire makes it clear:
- Tell drivers a crosswalk is coming
- Make the crosswalks distinctive, using either different materials or clear color differences. White stripes are not enough
- Popup signs are a great additional element. I'm SURE we could talk the business districts in any number of Portland neighborhoods to fund these.
And it works! Drivers really do behave differently around these crosswalks.
In today's O, Jim Mayer takes stock at year 3 of the decade-long project to bring Oregon's bridges up to snuff.
In its October 2006 issue, Consumer Reports magazine looks at E85 Ethanol and the FFVs (Flexible Fuel Vehicles) that can use it. Unfortunately the full online version of the article is only available to subscribers. However, you can view a preview.
The general tone of the article is skeptical. Here are some of the key points:
- The way FFVs are currently accounted for in the CAFE standards probably lets auto manufacturers put out more lower mileage gasoline vehicles than are really offset by FFVs.
- E85 is only available at about 800 gas stations nationwide (out of 176,000). Converting to add E85 can cost $200,000 in tanks and pumps. (A $30K tax credit helps.)
- While E85 does reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions (a greenhouse gas) over gasoline, there are other emissions unique to E85. Nonetheless E85 is a net win on emissions.
- Current E85 production from corn competes with feed corn use, and would probably drive up the costs of some foods (e.g., beef). Cellulose-based ethanol may be a better alternative.
The bottom line:
It's more likely that ethanol will be only one in a portfolio of choices that include biodiesel, diesel, electric, hydrogen, natural-gas, and efficient gasoline cars.
September 8, 2006
Recently we discussed the need to keep biodiesel production close to where the crops are grown to make the ecnomoics work.
This month's Oregon Business Magazine has brief article ("Putting the biodiesel plant in the farmer’s hands...literally") noting a potential technology to do the refining at a micro scale.
This morning the Oregionial Editorial Board weighed in, opposing tolling 99W where it would parallel the new bypass.
Original Post: 9/5/06
the phrase quoted in this morning's O from a county commissioner describing the potential toll road bypass around Newberg and Dundee:
"That's just not going to fly," said Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis, one of the leading local officials trying to get the bypass built. "We need to have a real conversation about how to fund this thing. I'm hoping a train wreck will be avoided, and we'll get to have that meaningful conversation."
Seems like ODOT still needs to do some more groundwork on support for this one :-)
One of the lesser-know efforts of ODOT is the publication of intercity timetables for various kinds of transportation in Oregon. Take a look and stimulate your thinking for ways to get around the state without your own four wheels.
Hat tip to Dave Brook for guiding us through the less-obvious-navigation to find this URL.
September 7, 2006
Simple ideas make for big changes.
I just finished reading "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger".
The simple idea is to seemlessly move freight from truck to rail to ship without having to unload and reload individual items at each step in the shipment process. Thus the standardized shipping container. Some of the results:
- Most existing ports didn't invest in the new technology in time and were supplanted by new ports. The classic example is the docks in Manhattan and Brooklyn that have been replaced by the huge container port near Elizabeth NJ.
- Massive rounds of capital investment by shipping lines, often incorrectly timed and sometimes devastating.
- Reduction of dockside labor forces by as much as 75% (a few far-sighted unions negotiated compensation for the lost jobs, most did not).
- Congestion in port cities!
- Vast expansion in international trade as shipping costs dropped sometimes by a factor of 10.
- Reorganization of production and marketplaces to take advantage of shipping complete container-loads of goods.
- Creation of the just-in-time manufacturing culture, which is estimated to have removed $1 Trillion of inventory world-wide
I can't help but wonder what simple idea is around the corner that might be just as transformational to our transportation systems?
Even from 3,000 miles away, I can't help remarking on the 20th anniversary of MAX!
215 million rides is nothing to sneeze at either.
Congratulations to TriMet for 20 years of operations and to all the leaders who helped make our light rail system happen.
I've been having an e-mail dialog with a reader about the wide-spread adoption of Ethanol (from sugar cane) in Brazil ("As Brazil Fills Up on Ethanol, It Weans Off Energy Imports"), and their ability to reduce dependence on petroleum.
The national will and industry to pull this off are impressive.
The question I have, on which the article is silent, is whether production of sugar cane in Brazil is sustainable or not? Is it grown as a monoculture as corn is in our midwest? What inputs does it need?
It would be great to have an example of sustainable biomass production being used for ethanol.
September 6, 2006
Note that registration on a scholarship basis (i.e., free to activists) ends on September 13th.
Original Post: 8/22/06
It's time for the PSU/PDOT Traffic and Transportation class again. I can't say enough about this class. It's a great way to learn how the transportation bureaucracy in local government works, and where to apply effort to get better outcomes for your neighborhood or community. This class got me started on my path to becoming an advocate and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in transportation.
Better yet, it's free to citizens of Portland (unless you want to take it for credit). And you have the opportunity to have your class project immortalized here on Portland Transport.
The Portland Traffic & Transportation class starts September 27. This is a great opportunity to learn about the policies, politics and people shaping Portland transportation.
To register or get more information on this popular course, call or email Peter Hurley at (503) 823-5345 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To register please go to http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=35727.
Portland Traffic and Transportation Class Fall 2006
Neighborhood traffic, transportation options and how to get things done in your neighborhood are the focus for this well respected ten-week university course. Hundreds of Portland residents have taken this popular class and learned how to negotiate the maze of traffic and transportation agencies and issues. Here's your chance to hear about how you can make a difference even in these times of budget cuts and shrinking gas tax revenue. Speakers include policy and decision-makers, planners, and engineers from TriMet, Metro, and Portland's Office of Transportation, people who can make things happen. Facilitated by Rick Gustafson, transportation planning consultant and former Metro executive officer.
What: A ten-week course sponsored by City of Portland Bureau of Transportation System Management and Portland State University Urban Studies Program
When: September 27 to December 6, 2006
Wednesdays, 6:40 - 8:40 p.m. (except November 22)
Where: Portland State University Campus
Who: This course is designed for the neighborhood activist, new or experienced, who wants to make a difference on traffic and transportation in their Portland neighborhood.
Limited space is available for the ten-week class during the Fall Term. Full scholarships are available to qualified City of Portland residents for the non-credit course. To be eligible for a scholarship applicants must live in the City of Portland and not be a transportation or law enforcement professional. Deadline for scholarship application is 5:00 p.m. September 13, 2006. If you choose to the take the course for PSU credit, tuition is $168.50 for one undergraduate credit or $319.50 for one graduate credit.
A reporter for the Tribune would like to interview folks who commute on 26 for a story. If you are interested in being interviewed, please e-mail email@example.com with your name, phone number and the direction you commute.
Also, in general what do people think about the proposition that the reverse commute on 26 is just as bad as the inbound commute?
Listen to the show (mp3, 19.5M)
This month the KBOO Bike Show continues the theme of accessibility of biking.
Guests include Ian Stude from the PSU bike co-op talking about programs for students.
We also speak with Kirsty Hall from PDOT's Transportation Options Progrm Options. Kirsty recently implemented a new program to help seniors feel more comfortable biking and will tell us all about it.
Sightline Institute has an interesting post the provides real time estimates of auto fatalities and economic costs from crashes.
Hat tip to Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder.
- Two way loop route
- 2 minute headways!
- Grade-separated, dedicated right-of-way
- No opertator in the vehicle (think of the cost savings)
SkyLink at DFW (at 5am, and I was just as bleery-eyed as my fellow travelers).
Points off for sudden acceleration and vibration.
September 5, 2006
I had some fun reading the observations of participants in the Car-Free Challenge last month. My own mostly-car-free life began about 2 1/2 years ago when I turned over the keys to my Geo Metro to my stepson so he could commute to high school. Don't even get me started on why a 17 or 18-year-old needs to drive to school, but suffice it to say there was a custody agreement involved.
That era is about to end as he heads off to college next month, and the Geo will get sold-off or donated at that time.
But last week, when he was off on a last-blowout-of-summer camping trip, I had an unusual luxury, an extra car parked outside on the street.
It was interesting to watch my own behavior change when there was no-apparent-incremental-cost-transportation sitting outside the door. I took several trips that were purely convenience-based, ones that I definitely would not have taken if it were a matter of renting a Flexcar for a couple of hours.
So seductive. On the other hand, I had zero temptation to drive on the freeway during rush hour, and I'm not going to miss the insurance bills at all when the car is gone.
From the Portland Tribune:
North Portland residents are invited to a Sept. 7 discussion about neighborhood redevelopment and transit.
With a theme of “What is transit-oriented development?” the event is hosted by the Overlook Neighborhood Association and TriMet.
G.B. Arrington, an internationally recognized leader in transit-oriented development, will discuss the Interstate corridor and the goals of redevelopment. Association Chairman Tom Kilbane said residents are excited about the various projects in the area that are soon to begin.
They include Killingsworth Station, a market-rate condominium complex; the Crown Motel redevelopment into affordable rental housing; and Overlook Village, a mixed-use residential development proposal just getting under way.
The event is set for 7 p.m. at the Kaiser Town Hall Ballroom, 3704 N. Interstate Ave.
September 4, 2006
Oregonian Architecture Critic Randy Gragg is back from his fellowship at Harvard, and in one of his first columns after his return, he takes on the Columbia River Crossing project.
Randy's not looking at environmental or transportation concerns, he's worried that just as the original construction of I-5 did, a new bridge will devastate the urban design of downtown Vancouver!
All the more ironic that more political pressure to increase capacity in the corridor seems to be coming from the Washington side than the Oregon side (not that there isn't plenty on the Oregon side).
This month the KBOO Bike Show will continue the theme of accessibility of biking.
Guests include PDOT talking about their program for older adults and Ian Stude (stew'-duh) from the PSU bike co-op talking about programs for students.
9-10AM, Wednesday, September 6th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
September 1, 2006
And it's not especially pretty. Among other things, it only has 75% of the energy density of gasoline, so you get 3/4 the mpg.
Which illustrates one of the big challenges of peak oil. There are few energy sources as cheap or convenient as petroleum-based fuels.
I won't even get into the agricultural and environment issues around mono-culture corn production (yes, I know ethanol can come from other crops, but this was a corn-belt-focused story).
Now the Portland Mercury is reporting ("Yellow Bikes: Version 2.0, The Return of Bike Sharing?") that Roland Chlapowski in Sam Adams' office is working on getting such a program going here in Portland.
We'll keep offering encouragement.
We've discussed here the fact that TriMet bike racks on the front of buses are often full. Yesterday the topic hit the "in Portland" section of the Oregonian.
Word is that TriMet will be testing racks that will hold three bikes on some routes next year.