Car Free Conference [in Portland] Open for Registration

Early bird discount ends February 29th.

Portland, Ore. Hosts International “Towards Carfree Cities” Conference in June 2008

Participants to discuss urban livability, sustainable transportation, and alternatives to private cars

PORTLAND, Ore. (January 16, 2008)—The World Carfree Network, in collaboration with SHIFT, presents the Towards Carfree Cities conference series in Portland, Ore. on June 16-20, 2008. Making its North American debut, the conference will bring together activists and professionals from around the world to discuss the creation of sustainable transportation systems and the transformation of cities into human-scaled environments rich in public space and community life.

“This conference is a chance to bring North America to the forefront of the international carfree movement and to empower ordinary people to change their lives, governments, and urban landscapes for the better,” said Conference Coordinator Elly Blue.

The conference’s fundamental role is to help participants share knowledge and assist in their practical work, whether that work be organizing community events, promoting urban cycling, or building carfree cities of the future. The 2008 conference’s theme is “Rethinking Mobility, Rediscovering Proximity.” The program includes workshops, lectures, walking, streetcar, and bicycle tours, a film festival, and a public day including an art show hosted by Portland City Hall.

“Portland is becoming an international leader in issues of sustainable transportation and urban livability,” said Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams. “This conference will help us bring local and international perspectives to a challenge we all share: dependence on the private car.”

The conference will showcase recent strides made in Portland’s urban landscape and the city’s approach to sustainable living. Previous conference sites have included: Lyon, France; Timisoara, Romania; Prague, Czech Republic; Berlin, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Bogotá, Colombia; and Istanbul, Turkey.

For more information please visit www.carfreeportland.org.

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Media Inquiries:
Meghan Sinnott
971-533-5235
Meghan.sinnott@gmail.com

21 Comments

21 Responses to Car Free Conference [in Portland] Open for Registration

  1. jim karlock
    January 22, 2008 at 5:14 am Link

    Why would we want alternatives to private cars?
    They are:
    * Cheaper than mass transit.
    * Small, efficient, cars use less energy than mass transit.
    * Private cars are usually faster than mass transit.
    * Private cars are more convenient than mass transit since your car is near your house instead of 1/4 mile away at a tranist stop. (No walking 1/4 mile in the rain, wind or snow, or past criminals.)
    * Safer since you don’t have to walk 1/4 mile to a transit stop that has drug deals, aggressive panhandlers and criminals.
    * More comfortable because you can enjoy your coffee in a temperature controlled environment of your choice of temperature.
    * The private car increases people’s income by allowing the user to reach a MUCH wider range of jobs, thus allowing getting a higher paying job than can be reached by transit in a reasonable time.
    * Less chance of being crime victim.

    The only downside of a car is that the city planners are intentionally increasing congestion and driving costs in an effort to drive you into Trimet’s cattle cars.

    Thanks
    JK

  2. Joseph Edge
    January 22, 2008 at 8:24 am Link

    Why would we want alternatives to private cars?

    Because I don’t want to have to drive to work.

    Because I don’t want people who can’t drive safely, due to health, legal (e.g., multiple DUII convictions), or other problems, piloting their own vehicles on public streets.

    Because 30 cars with one occupant each consume more space on the road (and in parking spaces) than one bus with 30 passengers.

    Because 30 cars with one occupant each consume more fuel and produces more pollution than one bus with 30 passengers.

    Because using public transportation in Portland isn’t any more unsafe than walking or driving down those same streets.

    Jim, your arguments for why everybody should agree with you again revolve around YOUR OWN PERSONAL PREFERENCE on purely subjective matters. It is ridiculous to suggest we should craft public policy entirely around your own personal preferences. What about people who just don’t agree with you (like me)? Your way should be forced upon them in spite of not sharing your views? Doesn’t my opinion count just as much as yours?

    Take into consideration this: Safely operating a roughly two-ton cage of glass, steel, and other materials at speeds dangerous to pedestrians (and other drivers) is not realistic for a large (and growing) number of senior citizens. Millions of baby boomers are just now reaching retirement age, and as such we will be inundated with a large number of them who within ten years will NOT be able to safely pilot their own vehicles. Do we let them drive in spite of the hazards posed to themselves and others? Or do we build up an infrastructure that can support their transportation needs over the coming decades? How do your ideas for transportation policy accommodate the needs of this large group of citizens?

  3. nuovorecord
    January 22, 2008 at 8:49 am Link

    Or, in other words, forcing people to drive everywhere is OK. Giving them a choice of modes is not.

  4. The Smooth Operator
    January 22, 2008 at 8:52 am Link

    * Cheaper than mass transit.

    This has been disproved again and again and again….

    * Small, efficient, cars use less energy than mass transit.

    You mean like the Hummer H2? Or some other SUV?

    * Private cars are usually faster than mass transit.

    Mass transit would be just as fast if it weren’t for all those SOVs running around clogging up the roads.

    * Private cars are more convenient than mass transit since your car is near your house instead of 1/4 mile away at a tranist stop. (No walking 1/4 mile in the rain, wind or snow, or past criminals.)

    This is mostly true, but how do you know that my neighborhood has criminals? I live in a safe crime free neighborhood. And frankly I resent the insinuation.

    * Safer since you don’t have to walk 1/4 mile to a transit stop that has drug deals, aggressive panhandlers and criminals.

    OK this assertion is just plain silly. I have already said that my neighborhood does not have criminals and now you say there are drug dealers too? Also, the only pan handlers that I see in my area are holding cardboard signs at intersections and freeway onramps.

    * More comfortable because you can enjoy your coffee in a temperature controlled environment of your choice of temperature.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! My car in the morning is FREEZING!!!

    * The private car increases people’s income by allowing the user to reach a MUCH wider range of jobs, thus allowing getting a higher paying job than can be reached by transit in a reasonable time.

    This statement is wrong in soooo many ways. 1. In the 12 years that I have lived in the Metro area I have owned a car for less that half of that time. The bus/rail system has always gotten me to work in a reasonable time. 2. I believe that most of the high paying jobs in the Metro area are in the CBD, and, therefore well served by transit. As is OHSU, Nike, Intel, major hospitals, etc.

    * Less chance of being crime victim.

    This is a redundant assertion–see above.

  5. Alternate Transport
    January 22, 2008 at 11:07 am Link

    There’s a new website just launched about a new transport solution. This system is designed to get cars off the city streets, and is fast, safe, very economical to install, and environmentally friendly.

    Imagine NOT having to sit in traffic! Check it out:

    http://www.alternatetransport.com

    Let me know what you think about it…

  6. djk
    January 22, 2008 at 11:41 am Link

    The only downside of a car is that the city planners are intentionally increasing congestion and driving costs in an effort to drive you into Trimet’s cattle cars.

    Cost of purchase, cost of maintenance, cost of gas, cost of insurance, cost of parking, time wasted finding parking, air pollution, time wasted in peak-hour congestion, inability to read or work while you’re driving, isolation from your community, lack of exercise, and risk of loss to auto thefts, car prowls, vandalism, or automobile accidents.

    Of course, since I don’t own a car, I don’t actually need to worry about any of that stuff. I’m just grateful I live in a city where people like karlock aren’t forcing me to buy and feed a car by denying me other transport options. Personally, I enjoy a (usually pleasant) eight block walk to my local MAX station (statistically the most “dangerous” station on the system, and I’ve been using it daily for twenty years without being so much as threatened), get around a half-hour reading time on the way in, get dropped off two blocks from my office, and enjoy a similarly relaxing trip on the way home. Or maybe just hop on my bike and have a nice five mile ride to work and back.

    The conference sounds pretty cool.

  7. Matthew
    January 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm Link

    One of the big things the organizers support is walking and biking. And Jim K said:
    Why would we want alternatives to private cars?
    * Cheaper…
    No it isn’t. Walking is free, (although a lot of people wear shoes,) and for what I paid just for gasoline 3 years ago, I could buy a new bicycle every year.
    * Small, efficient, cars use less energy…
    Bicycling uses about 50 Calories a mile if you insist on going fast on a bicycle, quite a bit less if you go slowly. There are 31250 Calories in a gallon of gasoline, so that works out to about 625 mpg. There are indeed “cars” that can do that, but they tend to be build by universities for contests, and are built on bicycle frames and are only used on closed courses because the “driver” (who is normally a sub-100 lbs small Asian woman: If you weigh 200 lbs, the mileage is halved,) can’t see squat because the she is laying head-first face-down in it. (For what it is worth, if you take out the engine in one of those “cars” and put in pedals, since they are so aerodynamic, the “driver” is able to pedal them at the same speed as the engine could, for less calories than the engine. The only reason regular bikes use the 50 calories is because the rider is upright and tend to catch a lot of wind.)
    Private cars are usually faster…
    Depends on where you are and what time it is. Downtown they are just as fast as a bicycle if the road isn’t crowded. If it is rush hour and there is a bike lane, the bicycle is normally far faster. And I regularly listen to people complain about how it took them 3 hours to get the 6 miles up I-5 in N Portland, and my answer is always the same: Why don’t you walk next time? When I’m going to visit my parents, I used to drive, but recently discovered that flying is faster, uses about the same amount of oil, and is only slightly more expensive than driving a rental/flex car. The result is that for about for 50% of my trips, the non-car method that I use is actually faster than using a car. Another 30% there is no significant difference, and the other 20% a car would be faster. But that 20% doesn’t count as “usually.”
    * Private cars are more convenient…
    Not having to pay for parking, and parking right at your destination, (normally closer than the handicap spaces,) is pretty convenient on a bike for me. But walking is far more convenient: no parking, and you can go up and down stairs and other places that wheeled vehicles can’t go.
    since your car is near your house instead of 1/4 mile away
    My regular bike is actually inside my house. As are my shoes. My garage is 14 feet from my house, although there isn’t a car in it so I’m not sure why I’m bringing it up, (they is some others bikes, and a bike trailer in there.)
    (No walking 1/4 mile in the rain, wind or snow, or past criminals.)
    The only crime that happens near my house involves broken down cars parked on city streets. Since cars are the source of the crime, doesn’t it seem like a better idea to remove the cars, than get more cars so that you can drive past the cars, (having trouble parking in the process,) instead of walking past them?
    More comfortable because you can enjoy your coffee in a temperature controlled environment of your choice of temperature.
    I don’t drink coffee. It is right up there with gasoline on, “bad ways to dispose of your income.”
    The private car increases people’s income by allowing the user to reach a MUCH wider range of jobs, thus allowing getting a higher paying job than can be reached by…
    But I have a job now that I can reach on bicycle, and wasn’t planning on changing that even if I could fly a helicopter to work, so what difference does that make? And if I had a private car, I’d have to pay for it, which seems like it would DECREASE my disposable income, which is the only number that that anyone should really care about anyways.
    Less chance of being crime victim.
    I can agree with that. I’m much more likely to be a “victim”, (but fortunately an uninjured one, at least so far,) of failure to yield for a pedestrian (which almost always happens several times every time I try to cross the street.) That said, if you limit your definition of “victim of crime” to loss of something more significant than the 30 seconds that I spent waiting on the street corner cause the cars weren’t stopping, then I suspect you are wrong: I’m positive that I will never be a victim of carjacking, car prowl, or motor vehicle theft without a car. Most people I know have been a victim of car prowl, but I only know a few people that have been victims of other sorts of crimes, so at least from my anecdotal evidence, not owning a car significantly reduces you odds of being a crime victim…

  8. Mark Mullins
    January 23, 2008 at 7:21 am Link

    The corporate media has generated hysteria about transit crime lately, but the fact remains that you’re more likely to get beat up in an auto parking lot than on transit. It will just be on page C23 of the paper rather than page 1. I ride MAX to and from the airport regularly, at all hours of the day and night. I see many interesting types of people, but have never felt threatened. The mentality of fencing oneself off from “criminals” at all costs actually feeds the sense of isolation and desperation that is at the root of most crime.

    And regarding convenience, convenience is why our nation is so obese and unhealthy. I am extremely busy and on most days my only exercise is my 20 minute brisk walk to MAX, which gives me fresh air and increased energy to start my day. I could catch a bus 3 minutes from my house, but usually choose to walk to MAX for the health benefits.

    A car-free city sounds great to me!

  9. Al M
    January 23, 2008 at 8:53 am Link

    “The corporate media has generated hysteria about transit crime lately, ”

    Two of the last three crime events where both fare enforcement related which means they are not crimes that the general public would experience.

  10. Lenny Anderson
    January 23, 2008 at 10:21 am Link

    Al,
    how would operators feel about loosing the fare collection duties? How much time would it save?…as a rider it sometimes seems like a bus spends more time at a stop than between stops.
    Would travel times improve enough to budget in the necessary fare inspectors and ticket sales machines? In Germany, operators just drive the bus, but stops are farther apart and each has a ticket machine.
    Maybe just during the conference, TriMet could test an expansion of fareless to all areas with parking meters…all of the Pearl, SoWa and all of Lloyd District.

  11. MachineShedFred
    January 23, 2008 at 11:19 am Link

    “Mass transit would be just as fast if it weren’t for all those SOVs running around clogging up the roads.”

    Seriously?

    Where I used to live*, off of 185th in Beaverton, it would take 90 minutes to get to work in SE Portland by using Tri-Met. That includes two bus rides (52-Farmington, 9-Powell), two transfers, and taking the MAX.

    If I drove, 25 minutes from front door to cubicle.

    If you’re going to debunk people’s rhetoric, do it without using your own rhetoric; and make sure it’s somewhat based in reality.

    *I now live 15 blocks from where I work

  12. Grant
    January 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm Link

    Jim,

    Why don’t you and Terry organize the Continued Car Dependence Conference, and see how many people show up?

  13. elee
    January 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm Link

    A voice of support/corroboration for MachineShedFred, his results are parallel to mine: 8 to 12 minutes by car, 45 minutes plus by bus.

    Like lots of folks, I’m not particularly in love with driving my car through city traffic and paying for parking. However, I’m not interested (any more) in donating an hour of my time every day to the cause of clean air, especially when Trimet exhibits such a cavlier disregard for its customers’ time.

    If Fred wants to operate as a social service for those with no choice of how to get about, he can’t expect many employed commuters to spend 10% of their waking hours in voluntary poverty on one of his slow unreliable buses.

  14. GTinSalem
    January 23, 2008 at 12:45 pm Link

    I don’t think their goal should necessarily be completely “car free”. Maybe they need to look at ways of leveraging people who do own cars and give them some type of incentive (like free parking and free gas) if they participate in a ride sharing program. If they could get 4x as many people in an otherwise SOV, that would cut down commuter traffic 75%. TriMet doesn’t have a rideshare program like they do down here in Salem. Its surprising to me that in such a large and “progressive” city like Portland all they focus on is lavish ways of flushing billions of dollars down the toiley, totally going aginst the “sustainability” mantra.

  15. nuovorecord
    January 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm Link

    TriMet doesn’t have a rideshare program like they do down here in Salem.

    Wrong. Metro’s rideshare program consists of a ridematching website and a vanpool incentive program.

    http://www.carpoolmatchnw.org – Over 8,500 registrants

    http://www.metro-region.org/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=23773 – Metro Vanpool program

  16. Aylene
    January 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link

    I really have to chime in here about the supposed extra time it takes to use transit v. personal car for commute trips.

    I have found, with many of the people who make these statements, that
    #1 they do not live in an area with adequate transportation options. You chose to live in an auto-oriented community so don’t complain to me when it takes you 4 times as long to use transit. You clearly did not move to that location for the transit benefits.

    #2 people that complain about the length of their transit trip often pick the worst itinerary for their trip because they don’t use the system enough to know the best routes to take. They rely the on trip planners which are unfortunately, very unreliable for finding the fastest routes.

    #3 these people also conveniently forget about the days when there are accident or weather related delays, and usually come up with their trip time based on ideal conditions.

    I am the first one to admit that using transit can often mean a longer trip, but not all the time and not always to the extremes stated on this blog.

  17. AL M
    January 23, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link

    “I am the first one to admit that using transit can often mean a longer trip, but not all the time and not always to the extremes stated on this blog.”

    Absolutely!

    From my residence on NW 23rd to Portland City hall by bus is no longer than driving.

    It’s shorter because you don’t have to find a place to park either.

    But the guy who lives on Bronson Rd in Beaverton attempting to get to Lake Oswego by transit spends 4-8 times the amount of time that he would by driving.

    It all depends on where you live and where you need to go.

    The less transfers the easier it is to use transit.

  18. Mike Feldman
    January 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link

    Al M said

    But the guy who lives on Bronson Rd in Beaverton attempting to get to Lake Oswego by transit spends 4-8 times the amount of time that he would by driving.

    And he chose to live on Bronson Rd and to travel to Lake O. He needs to understand that his route may sometimes be faster, but sometimes congested, and not complain too much about the congestion.

    This is even more true of the folks who choose to live across the Columbia (perhaps due to lower taxes) and work at (say) Intel or Nike. It’s a free country, that’s their choice. But they need to consider that they are, in fact, the cause of the congestion on 5, 405, and 26, and not bitch about it too much.

    Each one of us would love to be the only one on the road.:-)

    It all depends on where you live and where you need to go.

    The less transfers the easier it is to use transit.

    Certainly true. OTOH, it’s impossible to design a transit system that connects everything to everything with a one-seat ride. So the transit agency needs to facilitate those transfers — say, by carefully scheduled connections — as best it can.

    Al and other operators here: how well does TriMet coordinate the bus-to-bus connections? This is especially important late at night and on the “standard” (i.e. non-Frequent Service) lines, to minimize the length of walk and waiting time in a connection.

    This what European systems (especially Germany, Switzerland, and Holland) are especially good at — they really focus on it.

    Mike

  19. Elly
    January 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm Link

    Love this discussion. We’re reading through presentation proposals right now, and there is more amazing energy, creativity, brains, and guts out there in the world devoted to figuring out ways around automobile dependence than any of us could have imagined. The time for the carfree movement has really arrived.

    If you come to the conference, you can expect information, dynamic discussions, and workshops on everything from carsharing to depaving.

    Remember, the idea behind carfreeness is not about getting rid of cars all at once and forget the consequences — we’re all aware of the realities and inequalities currently at play — it’s about freeing ourselves from being forced to drive everywhere, and providing choices to everyone, especially the folks who for whatever reason simply can’t, shouldn’t, or won’t drive.

  20. jim karlock
    January 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link

    The Smooth Operator Says: * Cheaper than mass transit.
    This has been disproved again and again and again….
    JK: No HAS NOT. The simple fact is that, in Porltand MAX costs $0.434 per passenger-mile, bus costs $0.835, lowest cost bus line costs $0.34 and private cars cost $0.254.
    see: DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm for al the details – traceable to mostly government sources.
    You might also want to look at the Delucchi’s external costs and subsidies for different passenger- transport modes chart that was published the highly respected journal Access. See DebunkingPortland.com/Roads/Docs/Delucchi_Chart.htm

    The Smooth Operator Says:* Small, efficient, cars use less energy than mass transit.
    You mean like the Hummer H2? Or some other SUV?
    JK: I included the words “Small, efficient” for a reason.

    The Smooth Operator Says: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! My car in the morning is FREEZING!!!
    JK: No colder than the 1/4 mile walk, in the wind driven rain, to the toy train. But you are shielded from the rain and wind in you car. (ever hear of a remote warm-up kit?)

    The Smooth Operator Says: * The private car increases people’s income by allowing the user to reach a MUCH wider range of jobs, thus allowing getting a higher paying job than can be reached by transit in a reasonable time.

    This statement is wrong in soooo many ways. 1. In the 12 years that I have lived in the Metro area I have owned a car for less that half of that time. The bus/rail system has always gotten me to work in a reasonable time.
    JK: It not about one person – it is everyone overall. Transit serves a few streets, cars serve everywhere. Cars let you choose from a much broader range of jobs.

    The Smooth Operator Says: 2. I believe that most of the high paying jobs in the Metro area are in the CBD, and, therefore well served by transit. As is OHSU, Nike, Intel, major hospitals, etc.
    JK: Actually only about 20% of the region’s jobs are in the CBD anymore. Almost all of the growth has been in the burbs.

    Thanks
    JK

  21. Ron Swaren
    January 26, 2008 at 3:33 pm Link

    Glad to hear the conference is international. However, I would suggest that many people here might not be able to make the lifestyle changes that would allow them to not have a car. It is very expensive to buy a home in NW Portland, or even to rent in the Pearl District.

    Developing countries are now at a crossroads–between going in step with the auto culture (albeit on a somewhat different scale) or deliberately planning so that cars are relatively unneeded. Even if cars like Tata Motors Nano make car ownership affordable the infrastructure necessary for private cars would be another cost burden. Can they design new communities that are affordable and with incentives to do without cars? That might be needed, particularly where there is not much arable land.

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