February 28, 2007
Because I was at the CRC task force last night, I missed the Planning Commission work session on the Burnside/Couch couplet, but here's the update I got from a fellow neighborhood activist:
The motion made by Don Hanson and carried in a 3-1 vote (and 1 abstention) made the following recommendations to:
- not move forward on the B/C couplet
- enhance Burnside
- address Burnside safety issues
- develop an urban design and development on B/C
- eliminated Broadway as a barrier between East and West Couch
- make more positive pedestrian environment as development occurs
- make streetscape improvements
- apply sound economic strategies and assist social services in the area
- make turn lanes from Burnside
- evaluate East/West streetcar alignment as a part of the rail system plan to find the best spot for it
Further, they recommended that IF the City Council does adopt the couplet to:
- implement pedestrian safety measures on Burnside now
- make streetcar part of the up front improvements
- do not extend the couplet past 16th, however the streetcar could be
- make I-405 overpass upgrades
- make street designation changes right away
My personal view is that the Planning Commission fails to appreciate that the 'enhanced Burnside' alternative delivers only a fraction of the benefits to pedestrian safety that the couplet does and that any serious attempt to tame the traffic while Burnside is still a two-way street will have significant effects of diverting traffic into the surrouding neighborhoods.
Stay tuned for the next round in the bout at City Council on the 15th of March.
ODOT Region 1 director Jason Tell (mislabled James Tell in the print edition) has an opinion piece in Friday's Trib bemoaning the state of transportation funding here in Oregon.
While I don't always agree with ODOT about modernization (i.e., new capacity) projects (hightlighed in an article in the same issue: "Caution: bump in road"), Jason nails it that our system of funding transpotation here in Oregon is broken. We can't even maintain the system we have. The legislature, and the people who elect them, need to step up to reality.
A mildly positive outcome from last night's Columbia River Crossing task force meeting.
After about an hour of testimony, almost all of it from advocates for more options going into the DEIS process, the task force got down to the real business - deciding whether to add a fourth option to the alternatives.
Rex Burkholder played it cool, electing not to advance a specific option that might be shot down on technical grounds, but instead moving to create a sub-committee to bring back a potential option in 30 days.
The debate was interesting. There was a clear faction wanting to advance only the staff recommended options (big bridge or nothing) while another clear faction was not going to advance into the DEIS without more options. Along the way there were fear tactics ("if we don't move quickly we may miss the next federal funding cycle") and parliamentary moves ("we should separate the amendment and vote on the staff recommendation first").
In the end, Oregon co-chair Henry Hewitt had to remind the group that if they didn't enter the DEIS phase with some kind of consensus they might all just as well go home. The Burkholder ammendment passed with a solid majority, and the full motion to move into the DEIS phase then passed unanimously, although Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, who had been instructed by his Council to ONLY vote for the staff recommendation only raised his hand in assent after it became clear he was at risk of being the only 'no' vote.
So good news for the moment, but I wonder about the longer term. Clark County Chair Steve Stuart openly opined that staff would try to kill the 4th option before it was born, and I fear that he may be right. There was much discussion of the new option needing to "meet the Purpose and Need" and pass "the same criteria" as the other options (and many feel the criteria applied are actually much more stringent than what the Purpose and Need statement requires).
So whatever comes out of the subcommittee is likely to face an uphill climb. And if no fourth option survives, I think the task force may well splinter permanently.
Rex will chair the subcommittee. Let's see if he can navigate his way out of the box.
So good work to all the advocates that made it clear that no choice was not a choice. And keep paying attention, it's only the beginning.
Here's the early coverage:
February 27, 2007
I've been reading the Eddington report, a fascinating piece of research and advice to the government of the UK. I'll be posting on it in more detail later in the week, but I can't help highlighting one conclusion that seems very much on point for this afternoon's decision:
The risk is that transport policy can become the pursuit of icons. Almost invariably such projects – ‘grands projets’ – develop real momentum, driven by strong lobbying. The momentum can make such projects difficult – and unpopular – to stop, even when the benefit:cost equation does not stack up, or the environmental and landscape impacts are
The resources absorbed by such projects could often be much better used elsewhere. The suggested benefit:cost ratios of such projects, although only estimates, are often lower than many other less-exciting transport projects. International evidence collated for this Study suggests that the claimed transformational impacts of such projects are rarely observed, and any speculative assessment of ‘macro-economic’ benefits would involve considerable risk, particularly in view of the large sunk cost investment that would be required. Furthermore, the projects are rarely assessed against other interventions that would achieve the same goals – it can often seem that, unless Government can somehow demonstrate that the project’s costs outweigh the benefits, the project should go ahead. In fact, the question should really be are there better ways to achieve the same goals, or are there better uses of the funds to achieve different, but more valuable goals, for the same cost?
Have we had a more iconic project in this region than the CRC?
I occassionally get an e-mail from someone saying "that item on your calendar is off by a few hours."
This seems to be a 'feature' of Google Calendar that it adjusts for the timezone it thinks you're in. If you have your computer's OS set to the wrong time zone, things start getting wierd.
This seems to be even more challenging right now as Microsoft is distributing a patch for this year's change in the start of Daylight Savings Time. Even on my computer, which I believe to be set correctly, I'm seeing a one-hour shift in event start times.
If in doubt, check the left sidebar on the Portland Transport home page. The start times there should be free of any timezone biases...
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had two nice pieces on electric vehicles:
I'm looking forward to NEVs becoming a regular site on our streets. Perhaps Flexcar can add a few to the fleet.
February 26, 2007
Jim Mayer's article in the Sunday O ("Next I-5 chokepoint: $6 billion") puts the choices nicely into perspective:
The proposal from the task force staff boils down to a choice between committing the region's energy, money and political will to a single megaproject -- "Gargantua, the Bridge," according to one critic -- or doing nothing.
And regional leaders worry that the sheer scale and cost of the project could doom the entire enterprise politically, leaving a clogged, aging, accident-prone bridge in its wake.
Metro President David Bragdon said he doesn't want to narrow the bridge options too quickly. "It would be a fiscal mistake and a political mistake."
The key task force meeting is tomorrow at 4pm (even in our Google Calendar tells you a different start time) at:
Oregon Department of Transportation
123 NW Flanders St., Portland
From the Trib:
The economic value of reducing congestion on Interstate 5 between Portland and Vancouver is incalculable, but there will be environmental benefits as well. Once a new bridge, interchanges and expanded mass transit are built, tens of thousands of cars will spend less time idling in traffic jams – and less time spewing pollution into the air.
From the O:
Today, freight haulers and the region's freight-dependent industries can plan their schedules to avoid rush-hour traffic. A few decades hence, that will be impossible. The I-5 bridge will be, for all practical purposes, uncrossable. Freight-dependent industries will choose to expand in regions with swifter, more reliable connections.
Apparently based on assumptions that the this change in capacity has no relationship to the rest of the transportation system (we'll move the chokepoint to the Rose Quarter), or that development and trip choice patterns won't respond to the new capacity and simply fill the bridge again (as the I-5 Partnership report warns will happen if land use is not carefully controlled).
Both editorials embrace tolls as part of the funding solution. If we're willing to go the toll route, why not start now with high-occupancy toll lanes to give freight priority through the crossing outside of peak commute hours?
All Columbia River Crossing, all day. Leading up to tomorrow's DEIS decision by the task force, let's start with coverage and reaction to Metro's hearing on the options:
February 23, 2007
I wasn't able to stay to the end of the Metro hearing on the Columbia River Crossing yesterday because of two other prior commitments.
While I was there, there was certainly a lot of testimony favoring more alternatives.
I saw lots of Portland Transport contributors and commenters in the room. Can someone tell me what they finally voted? And what the rest of the testimony was like?
This week, the Business Journal's poll is about how safe (crime safe - not traffic safe) you feel on TriMet:
Total crime dropped in 2006 on MAX and TriMet — to a total of 886 crimes from 988 in 2005. But there were still 88 robberies last year, and 156 simple assaults.
Do you think MAX and TriMet are safe enough?
February 22, 2007
Happily, and somewhat surprisingly, last night Portland City Council upheld the appeal of the Northwest Distract Association and denied design approval of the Irving Street parking structure (the Historic Landmarks Commission had previously granted approval to the design).
The issue came down to safety. Commissioner Sam Adams, making the motion to sustain the appeal, cited the conflict between cars entering the structure and the heavy volume of pedestrians in the area.
Adams was joined by the Mayor and Commissioner Sten. The Mayor in particular cited safety as being the factor that decided his view.
So we have parking policy in NW decided again on a 3-2 vote. Will this hold up? WIll the applicants come back to the table to try to negotiate a solution with broader support? Or with they just go to LUBA and continue the "parking wars" to another battle?
From yesterday's New York Times ("Cleaner Coal is Attracting Some Doubts").
My favorite phrase from the article is "capture ready" to describe a power plant design. Sort of like an HDTV-ready TV set. I think I'd like to hold out for power plants that actually capture the carbon...
A new wayfinding system has recently begun to be installed in downtown Portland. I participated in the PDC open houses on this project several years ago (pre-Portland Transport) and am happy to see these hit the streets.
OPB had some coverage last week.
Some of the key features of the system include:
- One map to locate you within the central city, and identify districts
- Another map to place you within the district you're in
- Directions to transit
- Directions to local attractions
February 21, 2007
I spent a significant amount of my time for about three years from 2001-2003 trying to work out a parking plan for my neighborhood in NW Portland, sometimes in partnership with, sometimes in opposition to the business association in the neighborhood.
Tonight Portland City Council will consider a design review appeal on the first parking structure proposed under the plan that resulted. Here's the letter I will provide Council with as part of my testimony:
Tearing down a house – one with a number of affordable apartments – to build a parking garage at the entrance to a street of single family homes is a tragedy.
But the larger tragedy is that the years of debate about this garage have distracted us from addressing the actual parking issues in Northwest Portland.
Five years ago, a Citizens Advisory Committee labored for a year and a half to produce a parking management plan (PDF, 124K) for Northwest Portland – a plan that recommended a “three legged-stool” of programs: metered parking, a residential permit program and a transportation management association to design and implement programs to reduce demand for auto trips and parking. The CAC report (attached) barely mentioned parking structures, but on a 3-2 vote, parking structures, and the specific parking structure you are reviewing tonight, became the sole focus of the community discussion about parking.
That decision was – and is – out of sync with City policy. Here’s a partial list of what’s happened in the four years since that vote that demonstrates this:
- In 2003 23rd Avenue was suffering from the trough of a recession. Now the economy has improved and there are many new businesses – apparently unhindered by the parking situation – blossoming in the neighborhood..
- A new retail building housing a Williams Sonoma Home store and a Pottery Barn Bed & Bath store has been built and occupied, without adding any new parking to the neighborhood.
- Apple Computer was prepared to locate a store in the neighborhood without any additional parking being.
- The writings of Donald Shoup (“The High Cost of Free Parking”) have gained great currency here in Portland, leading Commissioner Adams to propose paid parking in neighborhood business districts that mirrors closely the 2002 CAC recommendations.
- We have fought a war in Iraq – a war this Council is on record opposing – which at least in part is about oil needed to fuel our cars.
- Global warming has moved in the public consciousness from a nagging concern to an established scientific consensus requiring all of us to reexamine the impact of our mobility on future generations.
- The Portland Peak Oil Task Force produced a report, commissioned by this Council, which includes among other recommendations:
Prevent over-expansion of transportation infrastructure that may not be a good investment with higher fuel prices. Air, long-distance truck and car travel are likely to be reduced in response to peak oil, and land use patterns are likely to become more compact.
Isn’t it time to recognize the parking structure plan as a false start, and return to the recommendations of the CAC which are in much greater alignment with the changing world and the City’s own policies?
Former NWDA Transportation Chair
As we head into the decision process for the next round of study on Columbia River Crossing options, various groups are beginning to weigh in.
From the Coalition for a Livable Future:
The CRC project staff has recommended that the task force, which advises local and federal authorities overseeing the project, advance “three” alternatives for detailed study in the draft environmental impact statement process. These three alternatives include two with the same 10 to 12-lane replacement bridge idea coupled with different transit options, and a no-build option, which federal law requires. In essence, this proposal is a recommendation of only one alternative: a colossal and costly replacement bridge. We believe that proposal is too narrow, too expensive and poses significant threats to public health, the environment and our region's economic vitality. Instead, we want to ensure that less expensive, greener and people-focused options are on the table.
From the Urban Greenspaces Institute:
From the information we have received, it appears that the current Columbia River Crossing purpose and need statements preclude consideration of alternatives that would undoubtedly have significantly lower environmental impact and cost than the proposed freeway bridge options. Therefore, we urge Metro Council to adopt a resolution that recommends adoption of a revised purpose and need statement that allow for a more diverse array of options in the DEIS.
If this project moves forward in its current form, it will have a huge, negative impact on the development of our transportation network, will harm community livability, and will be a step backwards for our region.
See you all tomorrow at Metro!
***Scheduled speaker had an unexpected conflict so we have a new speaker and topic ***
Portland State University Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
via Planetizen this article makes connections between urban planning and children's health.
Just a couple of the points:
- The decline of kids walking to school may correlate with the rise in diabetes
- Exercise may be more effective than Ritalin in controling hyperactivity
February 20, 2007
In his annual State of the County address, Clark County Chair Steve Stuart asks the $6B question: where's the money going to come from?
According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, ODOT is making the $100M multi-modal Connect Oregon2 package it's highest legislative priority, while the Oregon Business Council and Portland Business Alliance want to do this and more, with a $300M transportation package.
Metro Council President David Bragdon and several Councilors had an op-ed in Friday's Trib with their response to criticism about the approach to the Regional Transportation Plan update.
February 19, 2007
We've been debating The Columbia River Crossing here for most of the last year. Now there's finally an opportunity to take action. Two key meetings are coming up:
Thursday, February 22nd - Metro Council hearing at 2pm
(Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand, Portland)
Tuesday, February 27th - Columbia River Crossing Task Force meeting 4-8pm
(ODOT - 123 NW Flanders St., Portland)
The task force meeting is where the vote on the options to include in the DEIS analysis will occur. It's NOT a public hearing, but there is a public comment opportunity at the beginning of the meeting.
The main show however is probably at Metro, where there will be a public hearing on Metro's position on the options.
If you're an activist and only have time to attend one, I'd say plan to be at Metro on Thursday. But if you can't make it to Metro, or have the time to do both, I think you can have an impact at the task force as well.
Two resolutions (PDF, 83K) are being offered for Metro's consideration. The first, from JPACT chair and Metro's representative to the CRC task force, Rex Burkholder, asks for the addition of one more option to the DEIS mix: a new arterial bridge as a supplement to keeping freeway traffic on the existing bridges.
2. In addition to the CRC staff recommended alternatives, the Metro Council supports including in the DEIS for additional analysis an alternative that includes a low rise with lift span supplemental bridge built to current seismic standards to carry cars, trucks, high capacity transit, bicycles and pedestrians. This alternative retains the existing I-5 bridges for freeway travel with incremental improvements to those bridges and the key access ramps, to improve flow and increase safety on I-5. Additionally, this alternative would include replacing the swing span of the downstream railroad bridge with a movable span located in a mid-river location on the railroad bridge, thereby aligning with the current lift span of the I-5 bridges.
It's good to see some recognition that the rail bridge has a major impact on the choices for the CRC.
The second resolution, introduced by Councilor Robert Liberty goes further and asks for multiple options, including a land use alternative:
2. In order for the Metro Council to have a proper basis for making choices regarding the best investment of limited transportation funds for a thoughtful and integrated approach to increased mobility, accessibility, economic opportunity, and quality of life, the Council respectfully requests that the CRC Task Force, working in conjunction with those members of the Task Force, Metro and other interested units of government, to develop and explore
additional, lower priced alternatives for analysis in the draft environmental impact statement, including:
(a) A non-capital intensive alternative, or a major element of an alternative, that emphasizes investments in and system management for I-5 and I-205, to increase flow and capacity on both bridges, including special arrangements for long-distance freight movement; and
(b) A land use alternative, or a major land use element for an alternative, that reduces the amount of peak-hour commuting across the Columbia River sufficiently to reduce the overall project cost; and
(c) A supplemental bridge built to current seismic standards to carry cars, trucks, light rail, bicycle and pedestrians, that is part of an alternative that retains the existing I-5 bridges for freeway travel, with incremental improvements to the existing I-5 bridges and the key access ramps, to improve flow and increase safety on I-5; and
(d) An analysis of what kinds of improvements to the downstream railroad bridge could be part of a lower cost alternative, including, moving the swing span from the northern side of the bridge to a location that better aligns with the existing I-5 shipping channel spans, or building a parallel bridge, and accepts the existence of lift spans on all bridges; and
(e) An alternative emphasizing transit investments, including analysis of light rail using the I-205 bridge and a more comprehensive investment in transit in Vancouver, North Portland and Northeast Portland, sufficient to provide cost effect congestion relief on I-5.
3. Furthermore, that these alternatives be designed and examined in such a way that;
(a) The ultimate recommended solution may reflect a blend derived from several alternatives that is cost-effective, multi-faceted and incremental; and
(b) Each of these alternatives, and the alternatives recommended for further study by CRC staff, can be easily compared with each other, and with other projects in the region, across a full range of costs and benefits (including land use costs and benefits)...
The smart money is on Councilor Burkholder's resolution passing, but the question is whether during the debate, it might be broadened to include some ideas from the second resolution.
You can help impact that!
Passed on by a reader: article says walkable communities may make for healthier elders.
We've discussed before that making the fare system for Streetcar easy to use is a challenge. Our fareboxes are somewhat unreliable and are difficult to use. We hope to acquire much better fareboxes when we make the leap across the river.
However, until then, we'd at least like to make them easier to understand. Local designer Sean Moran (artoflbliss.com) has worked up new graphics that we think might go a long way to help. The design is both intended to reference some TriMet fare machine idiom while retaining a separate identity for Streetcar.
He presented this idea of an enthusiastic Streetcar Citizens Advisory Committee earlier this month. Now we'd like your feedback!
February 16, 2007
Jim Redden has a piece in the Trib this morning indicating that by the time you roll in all the interchange improvements, we may well be looking at $6B for the Columbia River Crossing.
It's kind of ironic that the entire gap in funding for the Regional Transportation Plan is $6B, and we're looking at dropping that much on one link in the system.
Now, I don't necessarily think I want EVERY project in the RTP built, but basically we're saying we could have the transportation system we desire if we had those funds available for the rest of the region.
A fun article in Tuesday's Trib on electric-assist bikes.
An interesting assertion in the article is that when in powered mode, such bikes can't be in the bike lane. Is this true? Is it good policy?
A meeting I had not heard of, passed along courtesy of Jim Karlock. Thanks, Jim!
Joint Meeting of the Washington Senate Transportation Committee and the Oregon Senate Business, Transportation, and Workforce Development Committee
Friday, February 16, 2007
11:30am – 2pm
Port of Portland Building
121 NW Everett
Senator Rick Metsger – Oregon Senate
Senator Mary Margaret Haugen – Washington Senate
Columbia River Crossing Project
Project Overview, Process, and Course of Action
Doug MacDonald, Secretary - Washington Department of Transportation
Matthew Garrett - Director, Oregon Department of Transportation
Bill Wyatt – Port of Portland
Larry Paulson – Port of Vancouver
Bi-State Columbia River Crossing Task Force
Hal Dengerink – Chancellor, WSU Vancouver, Washington Co-Chair
Karmen Fore – Congressman DeFazio’s Office
Innovative Finance – State Authorities
Jeff Doyle, Director of Public-Private Partnerships, Washington
Jim Whittey, Oregon Department of Transportation
Hearing and Work Session
Oregon Senate Joint Resolution 15 on the Columbia River Crossing Project
Washington Senate Concurrent Resolution 8405
February 15, 2007
At the last TPAC workshop on the Regional Transportation Plan update, Metro presented their research on roadway conditions (freeways and arterials). There are some very interesting ways to visualize the situation.
[Note: click on any slide to see a larger (and clearer) version.]
At a recent meeting of Commissioner Adams transportation operations group, we had a presentation from an FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) official on USDOT initiatives on congestion. There are four initiatives:
- Corridors of the Future
- Urban Partnership Agreements
- Value Pricing Pilot Program
- Intelligent Transportation System Operational Tests
Corridors of the future is pretty much a capacity program. They have targeted I-5 from Wilsonville to north of Vancouver as one such corridor. I'm not sure what they plan to do about the Terwilliger Curves :-)
The Urban Partnership Agreement program seems to be a sort of umbrella for things like the Cost of Congestion Study.
The third and fourth items show some potential. Everyone seems to agree that ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems - using information technology to manage our roads better) has lots of promise.
The eye-opener for me is that the feds are embracing pricing as a management tool. This is explored in more detail in a recent Christian Science Monitor article.
There may yet be hope :-)
It's congestion day at Portland Transport! All three posts today will be on various aspects of the issue of roadway congestion.
Jim Mayer has a niece piece in the Sunday O ("Car-choked highways certain to get worse") about the current and likely future states of auto congestion in the region.
It does a nice job of identifying the dynamics, and the choke points that are unlikely to be cost-effective to address.
The conclusion is that in many cases we will manage congestion by letting people wait.
I continue to suspect that pricing the freeway system (with appropriate investments in alternatives to create choices, and some system for managing equity for those for whom tolls are a hardship) would be a much more rational approach.
February 14, 2007
The Trib reported yesterday again on the skepticism from the FHWA on the draft policy chapter for the new Regional Transportation Plan. The Trib attributes the feedback on the RTP to FHWA Oregon Division Administrator David Cox.
The article also included remarked from at least one member of the Oregon Transportation Commission.
Change is hard :-)
Yesterday the Planning Commission got additional updates from Commissioner Adam's staff (the Commissioner himself has his jaw wired shut, which apparently did not keep him from meeting the Archdiocese Friday).
After the update the Commission discussed the project but failed to get to a motion on a recommendation to City Council. One member was opposed to the couplet (preferring the "enhanced Burnside" approach). Others expressed support for the process - now running since 1999 - to get to the recommendation and concern about safety on Burnside. And some thought the couplet should terminate at 15th rather than 19th.
They'll try again to get to some coherent recommendation at their next meeting on the 27th. This means the recommendation will come out only a few days before the City Council meeting on March 1st.
A recent post on Streetsblog questions whether Robert Moses really understood the implications of what he was doing.
February 13, 2007
Last week, Portland City Council, upon the recommendation of a Charter Review Commission, forwarded four Charter amendments to the May 15 ballot.
What does this have to do with transportation?
Well, one of these amendments would change Portland's form of government from our current Commission form to a Mayor-Chief Administrative Officer-Council form. So executive authority - including management of transportation - would move from an elected Commissioner to the CAO and the Mayor.
Given that much of our success in transportation can be attributed to three strong Commissioners-in-charge: Earl Blumenaur, Charlie Hales and now Sam Adams, transportation activists should pay attention to this one.
Since 1913, voters have turned down 6 attempts to eliminate the Commission form. If you'd like to help stop the 7th attempt, you can sign up at http://accountableportland.com.
[Full disclosure: I am co-chairing the Committee for Accountable City Goverment with former Mayor Bud Clark, opposing the form of government change.]
The video stream of Donald Shoup's presentation at PSU is now online.
Even for those who already know the patter, it's a revelation. One comparison I had not before is that the annual amount of parking subsidy in the United is roughly equal to each of the following three amounts:
- The cost to run Medicare
- The cost to run the Defense Department
- The sum of all property taxes in the country
Next Thursday, Feb.15th 4:30-7:00, come demonstrate your love for your bike and your fellow cyclists!
We will be gathering at 26th and Stark Street, where Nick lost his life to a speeding motorist.
Make a face to face statement to motorists about traffic safety. We'll have cyclists gather on both sides of the intersection with signs asking drivers to slow down and take care to drive safely through our neighborhoods.
Make a sign- and some to share if you can. The media will be invited. We’re starting early so that you’ll have time to scoot off to free geek’s movie night, or the nopo greenway meeting afterward.
Questions? jacqueauthier at earthlink dot net
February 12, 2007
Readers of the Portland Business Journal responded positively (70%) to a poll about capping C02 emissions.
Saturday's O reports that the EPA is going to regulate benzene content of gasoline in the NW (nationwide, actually). Good news! Thank you Ron Wyden.
But can we hold our breath until 2015?
Portland State University Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Bob Hastings, TriMet and
Brian McCarter, ZGF Architects
Topic: The Portland Mall Revitalization: Designing a Great Street
When: Friday, February 16, 2007, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
February 9, 2007
Libby Tucker interviews Josh Tickell, author of "From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank," in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
Just a taste: Tucker on the food vs. fuel debate about use of farmland:
What are we going to do when it's food versus fuel? The United States has 60 million acres of fallow cropland we pay farmers not to grow on. There's a massive potential to produce biofuels in this country without touching the food supply. We also lose 350 farms a week so it's not like we've got an overwhelmingly successful farm economy.
We have the worst farm economy in the developed world. Every per capita income from every other major industrialized nation in terms of farming is better than us. In terms of correcting that situation it would make sense to create products that can be sold and consumed in the United States so we're not floating our economy based on world demand and supply, which is what we're doing now.
After a serious accident on NW 23rd Ave took the life of one pedestrian and seriously injured another, NWDA Transportation Chair Kim Carlson got busy. Not only did she and other neighborhood leaders advocacy successfully with PDOT for safety improvements on 23rd and 21st, she set out to help pedestrian take safety into their own hands.
The result is this umbrella, designed to allow pedestrians to visibly alert cars to their presence. At the same time, the clever clear panels allow users to keep track of what the cars are doing. Kim, not only found a manufacturer, but also got a grant from Metro to help the neighborhood association fund an initial stock to sell.
I can't wait to point one of these at cars while I cross the street.
The umbrella will be available commercially, but here's how to get in on the first batch, available through the neighborhood at a great price:
The Walk Safe Umbrella—Coming in April 2007!
The Walk Safe Umbrella will make pedestrians more visible on cloudy gray, wet days and evenings so that motor vehicle drivers will stop for them.
The unique design combines an iridescent yellow fabric, reflective trim, and clear plastic panels:
- The iridescent yellow is particularly visible on cloudy, gray and wet days and at dusk. It’s glow in these conditions will highlight the pedestrians’ presence.
- The reflective trim edges the umbrella and punctuates the diamond yield to pedestrian symbols on two sides of the umbrella. This trim catches the light from headlights and streetlights to visibly announce the pedestrian to on-coming traffic.
- The clear plastic panels alternating between the diamonds is a key safety feature of this umbrella. It enables the umbrella carrier to see approaching traffic in two directions, giving him/her the power to make the safe decision to wait curbside.
This is a project of the Northwest District neighborhood Association (the NWDA) Transportation Committee. The project evolved from efforts to improve pedestrian visibility following an accident in which two pedestrians were struck by an automobile crossing 23rd Avenue at Quimby St. One pedestrian was killed. It was nighttime and raining heavily and neither the surviving pedestrian nor the driver involved claim to have seen each other.
Thanks to the generosity of Shed Rain, NWDA is offering these umbrellas for a short time at the wholesale price of $15.00 per umbrella. In April, the Walk Safe Umbrella will be available through local retailers. Walk Safe Umbrellas sold by NWDA after that time will be competitively priced.
Proceeds will allow us to continue to offer this item and to help keep pedestrians safe on our streets.
To pre-order your umbrella at the wholesale price of $15.00,
make out your check to:
NWDA Walk-Safe Umbrella
c/o Neighbors West-Northwest
2257 NW Raleigh 97229
This is an NWDA Transportation Committee Project.
You can also contact us through Neighbors West-Northwest at 503.823.4288
February 8, 2007
In the draft policy language for the Regional Transportation Plan update, there is a 3-tier classification of transit service:
- High Capacity Transit (MAX)
- Regional Transit (connects regional and town centers)
- Local Transit (bus)
Streetcar was initially lumped in Regional Transit (along with TriMet's frequent bus lines). While the proposed Lake Oswego Line might fit that role, I thought it was off-point for most of the ways we're using and intending to use Streetcar.
So I submitted a comment memo, likely to be discussed as part of a workshop next week. I'd be interested in feedback on it:
To: TPAC Workshop Participants
From: Chris Smith
Date: 22 January 2007
Re: High Density Transit
At the last meeting, I made a suggestion that the hierarchy of transit types should include an additional category: Circulator Transit. After further reflection, I think High Density Transit is a better name (it does not make preconceptions about alignment structures). I’d like to expand on this idea a bit to assist our further discussion of the topic.
Purpose of High Density Transit
Provide short-trip mobility in Centers and serve as a place-making tool to foster an urban environment in which system users have easy access to housing, jobs, shopping and entertainment. A virtuous cycle is created in which ridership fuels development which in turn provides more ridership.
The dense urban fabric served and created by High Density Transit provides an environment that offers access to closely spaced land uses by walking and cycling as well as transit. FAR utilization approaches 100% in new development along High Density Transit alignments.
Characteristics of High Density Transit
- Operates in Centers and on Main Streets
- Very High Frequency (sub 15-minutes headways, ideally 10 minutes or less)
- Ease of access (i.e., frequent stops) is more important than speed
- Employs some form of fixed guideway to attract development
- May operate in mixed traffic, does not require dedicated right-of-way
- Has high amenity value
Local Examples of High Density Transit
- Existing Portland Streetcar alignment
- Proposed Streetcar Loop
- MAX between Lloyd District and Goose Hollow
I would be careful to distinguish between Streetcar as a vehicle type and High Density Transit. High Density Transit is about a service profile and the use of a fixed guideway.
While Streetcar serves this purpose admirably due to the capacity, scale and ride experience of the vehicle, Streetcar can also be operated as Regional Transit with greater stop spacing and use of dedicated right-of-way as is proposed in the Portland to Lake Oswego Transit Analysis.
In fact, the Lake Oswego proposal is a hybrid, with Streetcar operating as High Density Transit in Johns Landing and in Lake Oswego, and as regional transit in-between (much as MAX operates as High Capacity Transit outside the Central City and as High Density Transit in the Central City).
An article in this morning's Daily Journal of Commerce suggests that figuring out how to pay for sidewalks is slowing the development of the pedestrian distract in the Gateway Regional Center.
Hat tip to the reader who passed this along.
February 7, 2007
Listen to the show (mp3, 12.7M)
Hosts Sara Stout and Carl Larson talk with John Benenate, the founder of B.I.K.E. (Bicycles and Ideas for Kids Empowerment) about the youth cycling program he has developed over the last decade. We also hear the voices of the kids of B.I.K.E., who share a special history lesson in honor of Black History Month.
As always, the bike show includes news and views from the world of cycling in Portland and beyond. Additional guests tell us all about Portland's upcoming cold-weather pedal-powered extravaganza, "Mini-Bike Winter".
While Steve Clark, the Trib's publisher, and a mover and shaker on transportation issues in the business community, would probably concede that we can't build our way out of congestion, the tone of the editorial suggests that he wants us to try a little bit.
Metro's approach on the other hand is to recognize that freeway capacity is a finite quantity, and we're better off building better connected local grids to avoid funneling so much traffic onto the constrained freeways.
Another way to look at this is to ask how we're going to allocate our freeway capacity: with congestion, so whoever is willing to wait the longest gets to use the freeway. Or perhaps more rationally, with some form of pricing, so that the economically most important trips get priority?
This is going to be an interesting discussion to watch unfold.
According to Tuesday's O, there is a bill in the legislature that would take various approaches to promoting biofuels:
House Bill 2210 is big and complex, delving into state land-use laws, petroleum markets, tax law and agriculture policy. The end result, however, could be a shift away from food production at some farms to take advantage of growing government and consumer interest in alternative fuels.
February 6, 2007
Portland State University Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2007 Transportation Seminar Series
A post on Streetsblog references research suggesting that children living within 500 meters of highways have impaired lung function.
Via the Daily Journal of Commerce. They're also going to roll out B5 to their whole fleet.
February 5, 2007
The Saturday Wall Street Journal had an article outlining strategies to manage parking by charging based on demand (the link is only good for 5 days). The price to use a parking space could vary by location or time of time. Donald Shoup, who recently spoke in Portland, is quoted.
This is excerpted from Councilor Liberty's February newsletter.
The Columbia River Crossing Study: We Must Consider More Alternatives Than Just a New 10 or 12 Lane Freeway Bridge That May Cost Taxpayers $2 Billion
There are very few regional decisions with greater consequences for us than whether to spend $2 billion of taxpayer funds to demolish the current Interstate 5 bridges across the Columbia River and replace them with a 10 to 12-lane new freeway bridge.
After many months of study, this alternative (with light rail and bus rapid transit variants) and a no action alternative, are the only ones recommended for further analysis by the staff of the bi-state Columbia River Crossing Task Force. (More information: www.columbiarivercrossing.org.)
Spending $2 billion on a huge new freeway bridge will shape the pattern of growth in northern Clark County, affect job growth throughout the region, have noise, air and water quality impacts in downtown Vancouver and North Portland, raise and lower land prices nearby and pose basic questions about how 10 or 12 lanes of traffic over the Columbia will merge into the 4 lanes of I-5 at the Rose Quarter. Last, but not least, it will use up much of the limited transportation funds that could be used on other projects in the region.
Does it mean this alternative should not be studied at all?
Of course not.
In fact, a big new freeway bridge is definitely is worth studying … as one alternative among many.
The mistake is to continue the study with just one alternative. The only possible conclusion for that kind of study will be the demolition of the old bridge and spending up to $2 billion on a new freeway bridge. I am very concerned that future generations may come to regard the bridge as a symbol of our generation’s lack of imagination, our disregard for fiscal responsibility and our indifference to global warming.
This region, of all regions in the nation, deserves to be offered many more choices to study. These options should include many other alternatives that were not studied by the Task Force because they fell outside the narrowly defined geography and statement of purpose and need for the project. (Documents laying out some of my concerns about the Task Force study and recommendations as well as some suggestions for other alternatives that should be considered will be posted to my website soon: www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?articleID=12542.)
Because the Metro Council is part of the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the region, it will ultimately be called upon to pass judgment on this project. In effect, we are being asked at this early stage to perform $2 billion worth of due diligence.
Metro Council President David Bragdon has created an opportunity for Councilors and the public to express their views on this regionally significant project.
On Tuesday, February 13 at 2 p.m. the Council will hold an informal work session on this subject and discuss possible resolutions expressing the views of the Council.
The results of that discussion, including possible resolutions, will be the subject of a public hearing and Council action at its meeting that begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, February 22.
On February 27 the Columbia River Task Force is scheduled to take action on the staff recommendation.
I invite you to attend Metro’s work session and to use your opportunity to testify at the Council meeting on February 22.
In Sunday's Oregonian Randy Gragg casts the Burnside/Couch couplet debate as a battle between "Road People" and "Urban People".
Apparently Randy would put me in the "Road" coalition, which I find ironic given my efforts on alternative transportation.
Hosts Sara Stout and Carl Larson will have John Benenate, the founder of B.I.K.E. (Bicycles and Ideas for Kids Empowerment) in the studio to tell us about the youth cycling program he has developed over the last decade. We will also hear the voices of the kids of B.I.K.E., who will share a special history lesson in honor of Black History Month.
As always, the bike show will include news and views from the world of cycling in Portland and beyond. Additional guests will be on hand to tell us all about Portland's upcoming cold-weather pedal-powered extravaganza, "Mini-Bike Winter".
9-10AM, Wednesday, February 7th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
February 2, 2007
Reconnecting America has just published Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the 21st Century. As you might imagine, it features a lot of material from Portland, and it is also visually beautiful. Every Streetcar fan should have one.
You can order it online and it is also available at Powells (it does not have an ISBN, so you can't find it on their website, you should ask at the information desk).
The Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) and the Metro Council will hear public testimony on the draft final list of transportation priorities for the flexible funding portion of the 2008-2011 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) on Tuesday, February 13, 5:30pm at Metro Council Chamber.
Ways to make comments:
Web site: www.metro-region.org/mtip
Metro Planning Department
600 NE Grand Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
February 1, 2007
This is the final question from the open house feedback piece. This weekend I will close comments on all these threads and bundle up the conversation to submit to the CRC staff
A new bridge should improve safety and travel conditions for marine traffic in the Columbia River.
At least when they're parked.
According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, we now have one of the first electrified truck stops in the nation in Aurora.
Drivers, stop your engines.