March 31, 2008
Our good friend and PDOT safety guru Greg Raisman asked us to post a link to PDOT's new video explaining how bike boxes work.
[Greg is the informative driver in the video :-) ]
March 28, 2008
Is getting more sustainable more about lots of little signals than about big sacrifices? That's what a recent NY Times article suggests.
March 27, 2008
What: SMPS’s The Future of Transportation in the Portland Metro Region
When: Wednesday, April 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Governor Hotel, 611 S.W. 10th Ave., in Portland.
Cost: $35 for SMPS members and $50 for nonmembers.
For more information on this networking event, please click here.
Oregon is at a crossroads with the way it funds and plans for transportation improvements. Governor Kulongoski has made transportation funding a top priority in the 2009 legislative session. “There is no greater issue in this next legislative session than developing a long-term plan that addresses the needs of all of Oregon, urban and rural, and at the same time provides stable funding to achieve that plan," Kulongoski said. Hear from four of the region’s top transportation planners and transit advocates as SMPS presents a panel discussion titled, "The Future of Transportation in the Portland Metro Region."
The all-star lineup of speakers and their topics:
- FRED HANSEN, General Manager, TriMet - Expansion of Portland's Light Rail Transit System
- CHRIS SMITH, Chair, Citizen Advisory Committee, Portland Streetcar - Streetcar Expansion Plans and City-Wide System Plan
- REX BURKHOLDER, Metro Councilor - Development of the Regional Transportation Plan
- JOHN WILLIS, Vice President and Area Manager, CH2M HILL - Public Private Partnerships
- Moderated by ETHAN SELTZER, Professor, Portland State University Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning
March 26, 2008
In yesterday's O, Joe Cortright asks who will pay for the Columbia River Crossing, and perhaps more importantly, what won't we be able to pay for as a result?
March 25, 2008
The Oregonian looks at the "sprawl angle" of the Columbia River Crossing:
As Metro Council president David Bragdon sees it, the challenge is how to build a bridge "without 100,000 people thinking they can move to Battle Ground."
March 24, 2008
The City of London is distributing 10,000 free blind-spot mirrors to truckers in a move aimed at addressing 9 deaths of cyclists in collisions with trucks last year. The cost is not given, but it's part of a £49.6m road safety campaign.
Should the City of Portland do something similar? Could we find a foundation to fund it?
March 21, 2008
Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) Professional Development Course *Roundabout Analysis and Design*, May 7-8, 2008 at Portland State University
Course description: http://otrec.us/content/otrec_roundabout_08.pdf
Registration form: http://otrec.us/content/otrec_roundabout_08_reg.pdf
The roundabout has emerged as one of the safest and most efficient methods of managing the transportation system, with increasing use`in the Pacific Northwest and around the United States. While roundabouts can often function well under a variety of conditions and design constraints, their design requires careful attention to design details to maximize safety and operational performance.`The instructor experts for this course will present the latest findings and guidelines relative to the development and design of the modern roundabout. In this course, you will review the interrelationships between design, safety, and operational performance as they apply to roundabouts. You will also review the techniques used to successfully accommodate all modes of transportation, including pedestrians and bicycles. You will apply these techniques through a variety of case studies and hands-on exercises covering single-lane roundabouts, multilane roundabouts, and peer reviews of other designs.
The basis for the course is the FHWA document entitled, Roundabouts: An Informational Guide, various State supplements, recent national research and committee activity, and the practical experience of the instructors.
Format: This 2- day course will include classroom instruction and discussion, application of course content through problem-solving and case studies. The course will start at 8:00AM both days. Light refreshments, lunches and course materials are included.
**Who Should Attend: This course is appropriate for transportation planners and traffic engineers responsible for planning, implementation and evaluation of traffic control devices; public officials charged with the evaluation of traffic control alternatives; and planners and urban
Instructors: Brian Ray and Wade Scarborough, Kittelson & Associates, Inc
For More Information: contact Robert Bertini at OTREC at 503-725-4249 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax to 503-725-5950.
Registration: Early registration is $295 before April 15, 2008. Please register by April 15!
March 19, 2008
Today's Oregonian quotes County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey calling for closing the Sellwood Bridge:
"I'm ready now to close it," Rojo de Steffey said. "On my watch I don't want to be responsible if it goes down."
Would closing the bridge be good policy, or just a play for changing the funding politics?
March 17, 2008
Clever Commute has added the #12 bus line (actually two lines: #12 Sandy and #12 Barbur) to its options.
Erik, I expect to see regular notices of service issues on Barbur from you :-)
Clever Commute would like nominations for the next bus lines to add...
March 14, 2008
News from the Portland Office of Transportation Streetcar System Plan:
Are you interested in learning more about the streetcars in Portland? How about a streetcar corridor in your community? In either case, come to the Streetcar System Plan Workshop in your district. The outcome of these meetings will be a community decision about whether to take on a two-month study of potential streetcar corridors in each district or decide that it’s not a priority for the community at this time.
Southeast District Workshop
Thursday, April 3
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cleveland High School Library
3400 SE 26th Ave.
Northwest and Southwest District Workshop
Monday, April 14
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Lincoln High School, Room #169
1600 SW Salmon St.
Northeast District Workshop
Tuesday, April 8
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Grant High School Choir Room
2245 NE 36th Ave.
Outer East Portland District Workshop
Tuesday, April 15
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
East Portland Community Center, Classroom #1 740 SE 106th Ave.
North Portland District Workshop
Wednesday, April 9
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
St. Johns Community Center Auditorium
8427 N. Central St.
For more information contact Portland Office of Transportation Streetcar System Plan staff: Emily Lieb at 503-823-7854 or Patrick Sweeney at 503-823-5611
Visit the project web page:
Gordon Price has one of the best overviews I've seen of the Paris bikesharing/rental program in his "PriceTags" #101 (PDF, 2.8M).
Let's hope for a similar system here very soon.
Speaking of bikes, I have a few spaces left ($75 each) at my table at the BTA's "Alice in Paris" fundraiser on March 22nd. If you'd like to join our group, please contact me.
March 13, 2008
A National Research Council report released Tuesday states that America's transportation infrastructure is at risk due to the effects of global warming. Severe weather and rising water levels will impact roadways, railroads, and airports. The report recommends cooperative efforts in transportation planning between federal, state, and local agencies, inventory and retrofit of critical infrastructure, and consideration of potential impacts of climate change on all future transportation projects.
Climate change will affect transportation primarily through increases in several types of weather and climate extremes. Climate warming over the next 50 to 100 years will be manifested by increases in very hot days and heat waves, increases in Arctic temperatures, rising sea levels coupled with storm surges and land subsidence, more frequent intense precipitation events, and increases in the intensity of strong hurricanes. The impacts will vary by mode of transportation and region of the country, but they will be widespread and costly in both human and economic terms and will require significant changes in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems.
The past several decades of historical regional climate patterns commonly used by transportation planners to guide their operations and investments may no longer be a reliable guide for future plans. In particular, future climate will include new classes (in terms of magnitude and frequency) of weather and climate extremes, such as record rainfall and record heat waves, not experienced in modern times as human-induced changes are superimposed on the natural variability of the climate.
Decisions transportation professionals take today, particularly those related to the redesign and retrofitting of existing transportation infrastructure or the location and design of new infrastructure, will affect how well the system adapts to climate change far into the future.
Some specific areas of concern mentioned in the report include:
- More heat waves, requiring load limits at hot-weather or high-altitude airports and causing thermal expansion of bridge joints and rail track deformities.
- Rising sea levels and storm surges flooding coastal roadways, forcing evacuations, inundating airports and rail lines, flooding tunnels and eroding bridge bases.
- More rainstorms, delaying air and ground traffic, flooding tunnels and railways, and eroding road, bridge and pipeline supports.
- More frequent strong hurricanes, disrupting air and shipping service, blowing debris onto roads and damaging buildings.
This report is a collaborative effort between the Transportation Research Board and the Division on Earth and Life Studies of the National Research Council. The sponsors of this report are the Transportation Research Board, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, U.S. Department of Transportation, Transit Cooperative Research Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Read the report summary; or
Read the full report.
March 12, 2008
The Clever Commute beta has been expanded to include all Light Rail lines and the Portland Streetcar.
Stay calm, Erik, I'm going to lobby for the #12 bus as the next line :-)
A report was released this week by the AAA calculating the costs of car crashes in major American cities. The primary finding is that crashes on public roadways cost far more per-person than does daily congestion. The study provides statistics for all of the same cities covered in the TTI's Urban Mobility Report, which is also the basis of comparison for the AAA study's findings. This per-person cost in large urban areas (which includes Portland) is a surprising $1,063; the per-person cost of congestion for those same cities is only $376. The report goes on to suggest that we devote more resources to preventing crashes than we do trying to prevent congestion, because it is a much more costly problem. Indeed, when 42,642 people are killed during one calendar year (2006) because of crashes on public roadways in America, we have a serious problem.
“Nearly 43,000 people die on the nation’s roadways each year,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Yet, the annual tally of motor vehicle-related fatalities barely registers as a blip in most people’s minds. It’s time for motor vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are. If there were two jumbo jets crashing every week, the government would ground all planes until we fixed the problem. Yet, we’ve come to accept this sort of death toll with car crashes.”
Communication & Collaboration
- Leadership and commitment are needed at the Federal, state, and local levels to make safety a priority in all transportation planning. Focusing planning and resources on safety improvements will not only save lives and prevent injuries, but can also reduce congestion.
- Greater political will is needed to pass legislation and enforce laws that can have a positive impact on safety such as primary safety belt requirements, impaired driving countermeasures, and full implementation of graduated driver licensing systems.
- Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation should ensure states follow through on implementation of their strategic highway safety plans and evaluate the results to determine effectiveness.
- National safety goals should be established and strategies implemented to cut surface transportation fatalities in half by 2025, as recommended by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.
Research & Evaluation
- The transportation safety community needs to develop more effective ways of getting the public to understand the impact of traffic crashes, the need for effective countermeasures, and the role their own behavior plays in safety.
- Increased collaboration among traffic safety professionals, public health specialists, and health communications experts is needed to incorporate the best available science on behavior modification.
- Increased funding for testing and evaluation of safety interventions should be a priority. Programs should be based on sound scientific principles rather than “conventional wisdom,” populist fervor, or political expediency. Systematic evaluation allows identification and expansion of successful programs and interventions so that limited resources can be applied more effectively.
- Further testing and implementation of a road risk assessment tool, e.g., U.S. Road Assessment Program (usRAP), should be encouraged to ensure dollars are spent on roads and bridges with the greatest safety problems. Understanding road safety risks will help state DOTs focus on solutions that will have the greatest safety benefits and should result in broader public support for needed improvements.
Graduated driver licensing systems? Getting the public to understand...the role their own behavior plays in safety? Behavior modification? As a proponent of much tougher licensing requirements and mandatory driver training programs for new drivers this is music to my ears. But how will the public at-large interpret this? Much has been made of the cost of congestion, and that is certainly what the AAA is playing off with this report. Will this get the same play as the congestion report in the halls of congress, state legislatures, and city hall?
Read the executive summary; or
Read the full report.
March 11, 2008
Final seminar of the Winter 2008 Transportation Seminar Series!
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2008 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Yizhao Yang, Assistant Professor, Planning, Public Policy & Management, University of Oregon
Topic: Children's School Travel
When: Friday, March 14, 2008, 12:00-1:30pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
March 10, 2008
Regular followers of this blog may remember multiple discussion regarding safety and security on MAX, especially late at night. Several recent well-publicized incidents of assault and theft on MAX and at stations have increased scrutiny of the system and have prompted TriMet to announce changes, including the creation of special transit police precincts for the west side and east side of the system.
Last week, PortlandTransport regular Al M. and I took a late-night tour of the original eastern Blue Line, from downtown to Gresham, to see what we might encounter.
After visiting 11 stations and taking 9 trains, we witnessed a police fare inspection, and tested multiple ticket machines. The following video is a compilation of what we found:
Conclusions after the jump...
We did not witness any serious incidents, and most riders kept to themselves.
We chose a Thursday night with good weather, to see what a typical week-night experience might be for someone returning late from work or dinner downtown. In the future, we may do this project again on a Saturday night or during a period such as Spring Break to see what kinds of behavior might be witnessed.
At this point, this is by no means a scientific sample. If there is sufficient interest, we may repeat the weeknight experience again to try and quantify just how much late-night bad behavior happens on MAX.
The big discovery on this trip: The ticket machines are very unreliable. In the majority of cases (by just a bit), we encountered platforms which had either partially-functioning machines (coins only or bills only, exact change required, etc.) or completely out-of-service machines.
The other interesting tidbit: The fare inspection netted zero violators. 100% of the riders on the car we boarded had a valid fare instrument, and there were no sudden departures from the car as the police boarded.
Finally, a disclosure: One of the police officers was a personal friend of mine. However, this officer had no involvement in scheduling this production and was assigned to MAX that day as part of his regular duties.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently released a report "A Better Way to Go" contrasting auto use and transit.
Rather than review it here, I'll point you to an excellent review on The Overhead Wire blog.
March 7, 2008
Listen to the show (mp3, 13.05 MB)
With their missionary zeal and promises of a better, fuller life,
some of Portland's bicyclists can begin to resemble evangelical
Christians with their fervor and their conversion tactics. This
month, Tori Bortman and Carl Larson discuss 'bicycle evangelism' with
Bengt Halvorsen, Gregg Lavender, and Reverend Phil Sano. Callers and
guests debate the merit of bicycle evangelism until Reverend Phil
draws the show to a close with a recitation of the "Bicycle Lords
An article on TheAtlantic.com, found by way of Planetizen, goes into great detail explaining the current pattern of housing demand across America, and how this will lead to a great exodus from suburbia and back into the central cities - and even into suburban cities and towns - so long as they are dense, walkable, and have access to good public transportation networks. At the moment, much of the lack of housing demand in the suburbs can be attributed to the subprime mortgage crisis, which has lead to a downturn in every housing market in the USA except for Portland, Seattle, and Charlotte. However, the roots of this shift in demand reach deeper than the current financial crisis and what we are seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg.
The decline of places like Windy Ridge (Charlotte) and Franklin Reserve (Elk Grove, Calif.) is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures. And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.
Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, has looked carefully at trends in American demographics, construction, house prices, and consumer preferences. In 2006, using recent consumer research, housing supply data, and population growth rates, he modeled future demand for various types of housing. The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today.
Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium. Per square foot, urban residential neighborhood space goes for 40 percent to 200 percent more than traditional suburban space in areas as diverse as New York City; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Sprawling, large-lot suburbs become less attractive as they become more densely built, but urban areas—especially those well served by public transit—become more appealing as they are filled in and built up. Crowded sidewalks tend to be safe and lively, and bigger crowds can support more shops, restaurants, art galleries.
But developers are also starting to find ways to bring the city to newer suburbs—and provide an alternative to conventional, car-based suburban life.
Demographic changes in the United States also are working against conventional suburban growth, and are likely to further weaken preferences for car-based suburban living. When the Baby Boomers were young, families with children made up more than half of all households; by 2000, they were only a third of households; and by 2025, they will be closer to a quarter. Young people are starting families later than earlier generations did, and having fewer children. The Boomers themselves are becoming empty-nesters, and many have voiced a preference for urban living. By 2025, the U.S. will contain about as many single-person households as families with children.
While this information is not news to many regular readers of this blog, this serves as further evidence that the car-dominated cityscape and associated suburban lifestyle is on a downturn. This forecast is certainly not bulletproof, as nobody is perfect at predicting future events, but it suggests that the "old way" of doing things is no longer perceived by the majority as being in the best interests of our society. This, while we continue to endure having the largest public works project in Pacific Northwest history forced upon us, a project whose goal is to further the agenda of the old guard, the old way of doing things. If the forecast described above comes to fruition and nearly half of those large-lot homes in Clark County are abandoned come 2025, a scant ten years or so after the CRC is opened to the public, will we look back upon our $6B+ investment as a smart one? Will that much capacity even be necessary at that point? In the face of this possibility, how else could we spend $6B - on transportation infrastructure serving both states - that would be consistent with serving the needs of future residents?
Additionally, how do we address the looming challenge of ensuring mobility for our aging - and now retiring - baby-boomer population? Many of our suburban households are occupied by boomers who will either need to relocate to walkable, transit-oriented communities or have additional transportation options brought to within walking distance of their suburban homes. The latter of which is not exactly an inexpensive proposal given the low densities of modern suburban communities. At present, we don't have the urban housing capacity to accommodate thousands of boomers electing to relocate to central city neighborhoods, nor do we have the resources to provide dial-a-ride services for those who elect to stay in the suburbs. What suggestions do you have for improving mobility options for the increasing number of elderly without breaking the bank and / or neglecting other required services and infrastructure maintenance and construction?
March 6, 2008
Last month we started a beta-test of Clever Commute on the Blue Line. Today we had our first real use:
There has been a med. Emergency on the Parkrose sumner platform,
it does may cause delays on the Red line that may cause blue line
delays and overcrowding.
On another note eastbound trains appear to be delayed 3-5 minutes.
Get connected and join the fun. We should roll out other lines soon.
March 5, 2008
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2008 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Lewison Lem, Principal Consultant, PB
Topic: Taming the Dragon: Reducing the Climate Impact of the Transportation System
When: Friday, March 7, 2008, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
March 4, 2008
In the last few weeks we've seen dueling op-eds on the Columbia River Crossing project:
In support: Burkholder, Achterman, Hansen
Replacing the Interstate 5 bridges over the Columbia River will be the single largest public works project in Oregon history. Getting to where we are today has taken the better part of a decade, tens of millions of dollars for analysis and outreach and thousands of hours from public officials, and citizens providing advice and comment.
All this effort has made it obvious that the existing bridges are functionally and structurally broken and must be replaced. As we design a new bridge, we should strive to create a visual signature of this vital international crossroads that reflects the importance of I-5 to our economy and the central place of the Columbia in our region's history.
In opposition: Ron Buel
The trio admits that it is a "valid concern" that greenhouse gas emissions will increase with the proposed bridge because 40 percent of such emissions are caused by fossil fuel for vehicle transportation. But these environmentalists blithely sweep aside the true impact of the 12-lane bridge they are promoting. That impact is a 40 percent increase by 2030 in vehicle-miles traveled over the crossing. That means more than a 40 percent increase in global warming pollution with any of the alternatives the bridge task force is proposing.
To be on track to meet standards passed by the Oregon and Washington legislatures, a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is required by 2030.
March 3, 2008
From Metro -
Metro Councilors Carlotta Collette and Rex Burkholder invite you to a brown bag lunch presentation by Peter Newman, one of the world's foremost experts on greening cities and urban planning.
- Date: Thursday, March 6
- Time: Noon - 1 p.m.
- Location: Metro Council Chambers, 600 NE Grand Ave. Portland, OR, 97232
- No RSVP is required
Peter Newman is a renowned Australian academic and planner who invented the term 'automobile dependence' to describe how we have created cities where we have to drive everywhere. For 30 years since he attended Stanford University during the first oil crisis he has been warning cities about preparing for peak oil. Peter's book with Jeff Kenworthy 'Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence' was launched in the White House in 1999 and his new book from Island Press is 'Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems'. Peter is the Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, where he is best known for his work in reviving and extending the city's rail system. In 2001-3 Peter directed the production of WA's Sustainability Strategy in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. It was the first state sustainability strategy in the world. In 2004-5 he was a Sustainability Commissioner in Sydney advising the government on planning issues. In 2006/7 he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Virginia Charlottesville and he returns there in early 2008 as Harry Porter Visiting Professor. He was the first Australian author invited to contribute a chapter in the Worldwatch Institute's annual State of the World publication - the 2007 edition being on cities.
From Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder:
Attached is a big file, the final report of the Climate Change Integration Group (PDF, 1.9M), set up by the Governor to make recommendations on how Oregon should respond to and try to counteract, global warming.
In particular, check out the section on reducing vehicle miles traveled on page 50-54. Both transportation and land use policies to discourage driving and encourage alternate modes are recommended.
This report now goes to the new Global Warming Advisory Commission, set up by last year's legislature and chaired by Angus Duncan, head of the BPA Environmental Foundation. The goal is to turn these recommendations into legislation for 2009 and actions by state agencies.