November 30, 2009
First the Columbia River Crossing sponsors talked of an 'iconic' bridge as a gateway between the two states - we got a concrete slab.
A world-class bikeway was envisioned - instead the design looks like a dank cave.
Now the Trib reports that Hayden Island residents who were once told that this bridge would unite their community are up in arms that the cost-reduced version of the bridge will be a 'Berlin Wall'.
How many more folks does this project have to alienate before we go back to the drawing board?
This month's show takes stock of cycling in Portland and looks at the Bicycle Plan for 2030.
11AM-Noon, Wednesday, December 2nd
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
November 25, 2009
Chandra Brown of United Streetcar (a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works) is one of 100 business people who will be at President Obama's December jobs summit. Here's the press release from Congressman Blumenaur:
Blumenauer Announces United Streetcar President Chandra Brown to Join President Obama at Jobs Summit
Portland, OR -Congressman Blumenauer (D-Ore) announced today that, at his recommendation, the White House will invite Chandra Brown, President of United Streetcar and a resident of Oregon's Third Congressional District, to participate in President Obama's Jobs Summit on December 3rd, 2009.
Based on United Streetcar's success in building the first American made Streetcar in 58 years, Congressman Blumenauer called on the administration to include Ms. Brown in the summit.
"Investment in America's infrastructure is key to our economic recovery, creating jobs and laying the physical foundation for a stronger country. I am thrilled that Chandra Brown will have a seat at the table for the President's Job Summit next week. Under her leadership, United Streetcar has emerged as a bright spot in American manufacturing. With each streetcar they build, they'll not only employ people in my district, but will involve other manufacturers around the country in creating the parts they need to make each car," said Congressman Blumenauer.
"I believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful in particular to Congressman Blumenauer for his efforts in making this happen. I look forward to representing American manufacturing and small businesses at the summit, and continuing work to create family wage jobs in Oregon and around the Country," said Brown.
United Streetcar will build the cars for the Portland streetcar loop project, which was recently approved by the administration. The project is estimated to create 1,500 jobs.
United Streetcar, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, Inc. (OIW). OIW is a specialized fabrication and manufacturing company founded in Oregon in 1944. United Streetcar's mission is to provide modern, efficient, safe and reliable American-produced streetcars and to be a pioneering force in increasing urban transit options throughout the United States.
The coalition of folks opposing the CRC hope to make a big public showing at the next Project Sponsors Council meeting on December 4th (9:30AM at ODOT in Old Town).
This is the meeting where the Sponsors will review the proposed cost reductions. The central message for the activists will be to take the opportunity to review the project assumptions at a more basic level.
Details at the BTA blog.
November 24, 2009
Last week, in a post about bike funding, I alluded to a proposal to allow more bike facilities to be funded as part of transit projects. Now Congressman Blumenaur's office is urging advocates to comment on the proposal:
Dear Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Friends and Colleagues,
As Jonathan Maus posted in the Nov. 16 edition of BikePortland.org, the Federal Transit Administration is currently accepting comments on a new policy that would extend and more clearly define the 'catchment area' for bikes and pedestrians around transit stops and stations.
I urge you to comment on the proposed policy. After all, who knows more about transit, bicycle and pedestrian behavior, needs and facilities than you? Communities across the country would benefit from your comments and recommendations.
You can find the policy, as well as the procedure for comments at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-27240.pdf. The deadline is January 12, 2010; contact names and addresses and requirements are listed in the document.
A final request: please cc me on any comments you submit, so I can share them with my colleagues in DC.
Advisor for Livable Communities
Congressman Earl Blumenauer
November 23, 2009
Metro is reporting that TPAC (Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee - the technocrats) had a discussion about the impacts of climate change policy on the Regional Transportation Plan, but the momentum still appears to be for the status quo on the project list:
Other TPAC members, while acknowledging the importance and urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources, opposed the additional modeling requirement on the grounds that the RTP is scheduled for adoption by ordinance in June 2010, which does not allow sufficient time to design a good model, let alone run it.
TPAC did adopt one amendment along the lines of (this is NOT the final language):
"Accepts the RTP project lists solely for the purposes of obtaining public comment and determining conformance with the Clean Air Act."
But I'm not clear on the impact of this.
Mayor Adams was successful in getting MPAC (Metro Policy Advisory Committee) to adopt stronger amendments. Expect all of this to come to a head at JPACT (Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation) [on December 10th, I think] before ultimately going to the Metro Council.
Via the Streetsblog network.
The Dutch cabinet has agreed to reduce vehicle ownership taxes and impose a new tax based on kilometers driven (complete with GPS tracking - privacy protections are promised). The new tax will be higher during peak driving hours.
The government is predicting reductions in both emissions and congestion.
November 20, 2009
This complaint off the Google Transit e-mail list today:
The walk score of the homes in Great Neck are artificially low in www.zillow.com which is a home valuation web sitedue to the fact that the MTA or the LIRR trains do not provide them with the transit data.
This has depressed the home prices in the area. It would be greatly appreciated if Google can help to correct this anomaly and ask MTA and LIRR to report the transit feeds for Great Neck, NY
The slides are now online.
Original Post: 11/5/09
I'm attending the Congress for New Urbanism Transportation Summit here in Portland this week (where I've had the opportunity to meet several other transportation bloggers!).
For me the highlight presentation on opening day on Wednesday was about the safety affects of different street network types.
The study was based on looking at all cities in California with population of 40,000 or greater. The surprising finding was that cities built before 1950 are safer (in terms of both serious injuries and fatalities for all classes of users: auto drivers/passengers, cyclists and pedestrians) than cities built after 1950.
The differences appears to be in the type of street network. Compact street grids seem to be safer, compared to the arterial-collector-local street 'tree' style of street network popular in post-war development.
This explains a lot here in Portland, particularly the difference in traffic safety between inner neighborhoods new parts of Portland near or east of 82nd Avenue (illustrated by an example from current news).
I'll post a link to the research report when it's available online.
November 19, 2009
Streetfilms has a great video with William Lind, a conservative transit advocate, about how to talk about transit in terms that conservatives will appreciate.
I would also note that the late Paul Weyrich, who co-founded the Heritage Foundation, was a trail transit advocate, evening making that point while serving on an infrastructure panel for the Bush administration.
I note some scenes in this video from Portland, and local videographer Dan Kaufman appears in the credits.
Sidewalk projects on Barbur, 82nd and NE Glisan using Federal stimulus funding are approaching construction.
November 18, 2009
As the "Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030" moves toward City Council adoption, the question that moves front and center is "how do we pay for it?"
The estimated price tag runs into hundreds of millions of dollars over 20 years - but is still small in comparison to our other transportation investments. In a discussion on Bike Portland, editor Jonathan Maus lamented that
"... this is about a game of politics and money and so far it looks like bike people are simply being outplayed... which is too bad because we all agree bikes are the best investment and they have the most beneficial impact on our city."
I do agree that bikes have the greatest potential to reshape our transportation landscape at the lowest cost - and have vocally said so as the plan moved through the Planning Commission, even to the point of saying that I would give priority to bicycle funding over Streetcar funding (but I also believe that they will very seldom be in direct competition).
So if we need to play a better game, what are the lessons we can take from Streetcar and other transportation initiatives that have been successful in attracting funding?
Here are some thoughts gleaned from what I've observed over the last decade advocating for a variety of transportation projects:
Federalize the Effort
Roads and Transit have dedicated federal funding from the Highway Trust Fund (gas taxes are the primary source of these funds, but Congress is now getting into the habit of supplementing this with general revenues as gas tax buying power declines).
This is a critical factor, because elected leaders will quite rationally invest local dollars where they will leverage new money into the community. If $40 of local funds will bring in $60 of "New Starts" federal money for Light Rail, guess how hard leaders will work to find that $40.
Where is the advocacy for a Federal bike funding program? None existed for Streetcar, so we helped create a national Community Streetcar Coalition (former Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad chairs it) with over 60 cities looking at streetcar investments advocating for federal involvement. This resulted in the creation of the "Small Starts" program from which Portland just received $75M for the Streetcar Loop project - the first Federal Transit Administration Streetcar grant.
For cycling, we won't need to invent a national advocacy organization - the League of American Cyclists has existed for more than a century. Portland advocates need to get busy with the League to plot a congressional strategy for a dedicated funding program for bicycle infrastructure. Then let's get our projects in at the front of the line.
[BTW - why is there no one from the USA's premiere cycling city on the board of the League?]
There's an interesting immediate opportunity emerging here. Transit projects have previously been allowed to use Federal funds for bike and pedestrian improvements that help get folks to the transit line, but those improvements had to be relatively close to the transit line. Now, under the auspices of the joint urban livability effort between HUD and the US DOT, the definition is being expanded. According to a proposal in the Federal Register (PDF, 59K), FTA is seeking comment on extending the 'catchment area' distances to one half mile for pedestrian improvements and 3 miles for bicycle improvements.
How much of Portland's proposed bicycle network is within 3 miles of proposed high capacity transit corridors? A lot. Portland advocates should:
- Immediately comment favorably on the FTA proposal. (I have)
- Get out their compasses and figure out the 3-mile envelope around the Milwaukie LRT and Lake Oswego Streetcar corridors (the next two projects that will seek FTA funding). Let's try to get all the improvements in those areas matched 60/40. Yes, you'll have to convince TriMet and others to expand the project definitions and help assemble more local match, but as I said before, local leaders are all about bringing home more Federal dollars.
The history of transportation funding in this region suggests that Portland-specific efforts are always met with a degree of skepticism at JPACT. Projects that reach all parts of the region do better.
It's not a random occurrence that the most recent Light Rail project, and the next one, both touch Clackamas County - it's "their turn". It's also not coincidental that the next Streetcar line in the pipeline will go to Lake Oswego.
Portland advocates need to work with the rest of the regional and get cycling projects moving all over the region. Metro's Intertwine effort is an ideal framework for this.
This will also help with the Federal effort. JPACT travels back to DC and speaks with one voice to the Congressional delegation, and that voice better talk about bikes if we want to be successful in creating a significant Federal funding program.
Localize the Effort
Every successful rail transit project has a local stakeholder committee, including prominent representation from businesses along the alignment. We are beginning to see this kind of advocacy around major trail projects (Sullivan's Gulch, North Portland Greenway) but we need to deepen this and get it going for more projects - probably in ways that are less about linear corridors and more about local networks. Can we get a stakeholder group formed for strengthening the bike network in a whole neighborhood or sector of a the City?
And we MUST make the connection between good cycling environments and property values. Local Improvement Districts (where property owners levy a fee on themselves to pay for a portion of the project) are the cornerstones of Streetcar project funding. We need to get an economist hired to do a serious study correlating bike traffic volumes with property values NOW.
Watch the evolving landscape. Some kind of carbon cap-and-trade system is in our future. Let's position bike projects as effective investments for offsets. Transit leaders are already thinking about this.
Lottery Funds. TriMet has successfully lobbied to use bonding capacity from the State Lottery to fund first the West Side extension and now the Milwaukie line. The Governor and Legislature have also allocated $100M of Lottery bonding capacity to non-road transportation ("Connect Oregon") in each of the last two sessions. Can we convince the Legislature to use some Lottery bonding for bike projects?
Think about how we sell this to the public. I made the comment during the Planning Commission work session that my family pays (happily) about $250/year for the library levy. That helps fund about a $50M annual budget (for the whole county). We need about $25M (for Portland) annually to build out the bicycle plan. If citizens will vote to fund the library, how do we convince them to vote to fund cycling at a comparable level?
So what are we waiting for?
November 17, 2009
NE Community Forum to be held Saturday, November 21st:
Impacts of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC)
On Saturday, November 21st the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and the Sustainability Clinic at Willamette University College of Law will be hosting a Columbia River Crossing Impact Forum. Students of the Sustainability Clinic will present their research about the impacts the Columbia River Crossing project could have on the east side of Portland and the region as a whole. The forum will also include a presentation by Jeri Williams from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and former Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Action Group, on her involvement and advocacy on the various stages of this bridge expansion project.
The forum is being held to educate east side neighbors about the status and implications of the current Columbia River Crossing project. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about opportunities and explore ideas for involvement.
What: NE Community Forum: Impacts of the Columbia River Crossing
When: Saturday, November 21st 10am - 12:30pm; 9:45am Coffee and Continental Breakfast
Where: Redeemer Lutheran Church, 5431 NE 20th Ave.
RSVP: By November 19th to Regena Williams at 503-823-4575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact Shoshana Cohen at the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods
Phone: (503) 891-6408, Email: email@example.com
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Fall 2009 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Tony Rufolo, PSU
Topic: Adventures in DC: Getting Washington Perspectives on Transportation Research, Finance, and Policy
When: Friday, Nov 20, 2009, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
November 16, 2009
OPB is quoting Mayor Sam Adams threatening to vote no on the Regional Transportation Plan unless we can get project-by-project analysis of climate change impacts (against a context of an RTP that predicts a 50% increase in GHG emissions by 2035).
Metro is taking the position that such analysis would be available for the 2014 RTP update, and meanwhile suggests some interim actions:
- Local transportation system plans - TSP updates will begin in late-2010 to be consistent with the new RTP policies and targets, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program - Metro Council and JPACT/MPAC revise the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) criteria to help the region select transportation investments that meet all the RTP performance targets including minimizing global warming. Multi-modal transportation investments within designated centers, corridors and employment areas should be the focus of investments.
- Corridor refinement plans - Investments identified through corridor refinement plan studies will be evaluated and prioritized on their ability to best leverage the region's desired outcomes, including minimizing contributions to global warming.
- Local land use commitments and regional capacity ordinance work - In December 2010, adopt a regional capacity ordinance that commits communities and the region to specific land use actions that minimize contributions to global warming.
I'm with Sam that we need per-project analysis. Go, Sam, go!
CRC staff is out shopping the new slimmer version of the Columbia River Crossing, now with only 10 lanes (no word on the exact lane configuration, but apparently it can be re-striped to 12 lanes later) and a few less interchanges - and an uglier design across Hayden Island.
Here's the full list:
- Eliminating a dedicated ramp (braid) to access Victory Boulevard from I-5 southbound
- Eliminating an elevated ramp (flyover) across I-5 as part of the Marine Drive interchange
- Reusing the existing highway bridges over North Portland Harbor
- Eliminating elevated structures over Hayden Island and lowering the profile of the interstate
- Reducing the width of the I-5 bridge to accommodate 10 traffic lanes instead of 12
- Removing one planned highway lane between SR 14 and SR 500
- Eliminating the ramps to I-5 northbound from SR 500 and from I-5 southbound to SR 500
All of this saves $650M. The package will be presented to the Project Sponsors Council on December 4th.
According to a presentation staff has been showing to local business groups the latest back of the napkin financial plan looks like:
$800M in Federal New Starts Transit Funding
$400M in Federal Highway Funds
$1.3B from tolling
The balance of the total cost of the project which is now estimated in a range from $2.6B to $3.6B would presumably be up to the two state governments to cough up.
The Oregonian Editorial Board is buying it.
So Washington and Oregon somehow need to find somewhere between a half and one and half billion dollars to do this.
Isn't that enough of an incentive to go back to the DEIS and do some real least-cost planning?
November 15, 2009
For those who can't attend in person, the meeting with be streamed.
Original Post 11/12/09:
The House Interim Transportation Committee is meeting on November 19th and will discuss the Columbia River Crossing and High-Speed Rail among other issues.
The not-to-be-missed annual appearance of Gordon Price at the PBOT/PSU Traffic and Transportation class. Open to the public:
On Thursday 11/19, Gordon Price will give a free presentation on the effective integration of transportation in high-density environments with an emphasis on land use. If you've seen Price speak before, fear not! He always has a new presentation and a trick or two up his sleeve...
Price is a former City of Vancouver, B.C. Councilor and current Simon Fraser University and University of British Columbia Professor who teaches, researches, and writes extensively on urban development and planning.
To learn more about Price check out his electronic magazine, Price Tags at http://www.pricetags.ca/pricetags.html or his daily blog on Vancouver and worldwide urban affairs, http://pricetags.wordpress.com/.
What: Gordon Price Presentation
When: Thursday 11/19, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, 2nd Floor Auditorium
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Contact: Scott Cohen
City of Portland Office of Transportation
November 13, 2009
I jotted down some of the comments I made at the last Planning Commission hearing about the relative costs of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, and the same point is also being discussed at BikePortland and the plan will be featured on Think Out Loud on OPB (9-10am, FM 91.5) this morning.
November 12, 2009
7th Annual Region X Student Transportation Conference
On Friday, November 13th, the University of Oregon will be hosting the 7th Annual Region X Student Transportation Conference. Students from transportation-related programs in Northwestern universities are invited to attend to present their work and hear about what other students are doing in the transportation field. Keynote speaker Jim Whitty from ODOT will be presenting thoughts on "Innovations in Transportation during Times of Societal Change," and there will be a panel discussion about Prospects for a Multi-Modal future involving representatives from four different modes of transportation in the Eugene area. Students from the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, the Oregon Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, and Portland State will be attending and presenting at the conference.
For more information, go to: http://otrec.us/content/StudentConference09.php
http://aaa.uoregon.edu/index.cfm?mode=news&page=news&id=973 (this is a blurb on the AAA website at UO)
November 11, 2009
The good folks at walk score have added transit access as one of the scoring criteria - at least in those cites like Portland that have Google Transit feeds.
I'm happy to report that being 0.16 miles from the Streetcar line has driven my walk score up to 98 (aka "Walker's Paradise")!
They also now have an iPhone app.
The good folks who bring you the "Safer Routes to School" program in Portland are also sponsoring this panel:
Monday, NOV 16TH, 10:30 AM - Noon
Panel Discussion: Promoting Active Transportation at School - Successes and Lessons Learned
Location: NORTH PORTLAND LIBRARY BRANCH (512 N Killingsworth St)
Develop new ideas for successful active transportation at your school and problem-solve approaches to overcoming challenges!
Please join Safe Routes to School on November 16th (Monday) for this engaging panel discussion. Three parent volunteers will each share their experiences in promoting biking and walking at their schools, followed by a Q&A period.
Panelists and topics:
- Meg Hagan, Laurelhurst K-7 - Creating Laurelhurst's "alternative transportation week" and securing impressive levels of student participation.
- Anne Laufe, Roseway Heights K-8 - Building enthusiasm among students and families, and leading by example.
- Laurie Paulsen, Beach PK-8 - The bike fairy, friendly rivals and dedicated teachers: Ingredients for walking and biking success.
Coffee, pastries and fruit will be provided.
More info here.
November 10, 2009
Rob Zako posted the message below to the OTRAN list and with his permission I'm cross-posting it here.
This afternoon, I attended a portion of the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) meeting, in particular, the agenda item dealing with progress on updating the Eugene-Springfield-Coburg regional transportation system plan.
I was reminded that when it was first adopted in 1991, the Oregon Transportation Planning Rule (TPR) called for metropolitan areas such as Eugene-Springfield to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita by 10% over 20 years. Mind you the TPR uses the term "VMT" to refer only to automobiles and light trucks used for the movement of people, not goods and services, and only for trips that originate and end within the metropolitan boundary. And the objective was to reduce not the TOTAL number of vehicle miles traveled, which naturally increases when the population increases, but only vehicle miles traveled PER CAPITA. Thus one could achieve a 10% reduction, for example, by have some people trip chain, carpool, or use alternative modes some of the time. It hardly seems like that ambitious a target to meet. And yet the reality of modern urban development is that as a community grows larger geographically, and as destinations get farther away from each other on average, the typical person tends to drive more and farther, resulting in an increase in VMT per
Thus in the late 1990s, metropolitan areas protested that the VMT reduction standard was unrealistic. In 1998, LCDC amended the TPR to require only a 5% reduction in VMT per capita over 20 years, or to allow metropolitan areas to develop their own quot;alternative standards" to measure progress in reducing reliance on the automobile. LCDC amended the TPR again in 2006 (originally for a different reason related to "concurrency" and a hospital in Springfield) to completely do away with the requirement to reduce VMT, leaving only the "alternative standards." And at the LCDC meeting today, local governments were supposed to report on their progress in meeting their own standards for reducing reliance on the automobile.
I mention all of this ancient history from Oregon's "old" planning system, because we are perhaps in the midst of creating a "new" planning system ... or at least significantly revising the system we have. Among other things, Oregon House Bill 2186 (2009) creates a task force to look at how metropolitan areas can plan transportation and land use to begin to meet state targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, as defined in Oregon House Bill 3543 (2007). As noted before, some subscribers to this email list are members of the task force, which has but two meetings left and is looking to finalize by December 4 its recommendations to the February 2010 special session of the Legislature.
While one can make the topic of reducing your carbon footprint from transportation complicated, it isn't rocket science. As I have explained before to this email list, under reasonable assumptions, the expected increase in fuel efficiency over the next several decades can be expected to more or less offset the expect increase in population, resulting in no net change in TOTAL greenhouse gas emissions. In order to actually reduce TOTAL greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, to 75% below 1990 levels by the year 2050, we more or less need to reduce vehicles miles traveled PER CAPITA by 5% per year, year after year, from now until the middle of the century. To put it another way, over the next 14 years, people need to cut their driving in half. Then in following 14 years they need to cut their driving in half again. And then once more cut it in half so that by the time we reach the year 2050, people are driving but one-eighth as much as they do now.
The above is all review, and many of us are general familiar with these conclusions. So what?
So the challenge is to seriously consider what our communities would look like -- will have to look like -- if we take these numbers seriously and plan for people to drive significantly less and less over time, until by the year 2050 we are seeing people driving just one-eighth as much as they do now. You'd have to have a community where all streets have sidewalks that facilitate walking, and where businesses are built to the street to cater to pedestrians.You'd have to have a network of safe and fast bicycle routes that rival the network we have today for cars, and there would need to be secure places for locking bicycles and facilities for people to take showers. And you'd have to have buses running pretty much everywhere all the time so frequently that you would not have to worry about schedules but would just catch the next bus where you are to get where you had to go. Indeed, one could reasonable expect public transit to serve a big share of all trips, maybe even more than half of all trips. And you'd need to have fast and convenient options for intercity travel, such as frequent intercity bus service and high(er)-speed rail. What would such a transportation system realistically look like? How much would it cost to build it? How much would it cost to operate and maintain it?
And what about land use? The conventional wisdom is that public transit only becomes cost effective when you have densities of 12 units per acre or more. The idea is that at lower densities, not enough people live close enough to transit lines to fill up a bus and make running it economical. But such conventional wisdom is rooted in a world where most people own cars, gas is relatively cheap, and parking widely available and inexpensive. What if the primary options for getting around were pretty much limited to walking, bicycling and taking transit, with a private motor vehicle relegated to an
expensive and infrequent choice? Then maybe even lower density development could, in theory, support transit service. I don't know for sure. But my point is that climate change is about ... well, change, big change. And when we start talking big changes, we may need to change some of the things we think we already know.
Am I dreaming? Perhaps. But I don't see how we ultimately will successfully be able to make the big changes we need to make unless we seriously plan for such a future. You don't complete a cross-country trip looking at a map just one block at a time, do you? You need to begin looking at where you are starting and where you want to end up, and then plan a route to get you there.
And such planning need not be rocket science. One can go far doing what scientists
call order-of-magnitude calculations. For example, imagine half of all motor vehicle trips being replaced by bus trips. How many buses would you then need? How much would it cost to operate such a system in total, or per passenger? How much narrower could your streets be with the reduced traffic? If someone has not yet written a white paper spelling out such a scenario, it would not be so hard to do so, at least in general terms. The point is to in a realistic, if rough, way begin to look to the future and hence begin to talk realistically about what needs to be done to get there.
We need to do no less for our communities now. Let's get started.
But we can do better!
The following is from the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition:
MONDAY, NOV. 9, 2009
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
Portland ranked 44 in Nation for Preventable Pedestrian Deaths, Report Shows
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Urges Members of Congress to Support Increased Focus on Pedestrian Safety in Upcoming Federal Legislation
Portland, Ore. -- A newly released national report shows that, while Portland is ranked among the 10 least dangerous metropolitan area for pedestrians, transportation design and funding priorities continues to disenfranchise walking.
The report, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), ranks America's major metropolitan areas and states according to a Pedestrian Danger Index that assesses how safe they are for walking. An update of the 2004 Mean Streets report, Dangerous by Design was released by Transportation for America (T4America.org) and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership.
The report authors note that most pedestrian deaths are preventable, because they occur on streets that are designed to encourage speeding traffic and lack safe sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and other protections. Fixing these problems is a matter of will on the part of state departments of transportation and local communities, and of shifting spending priorities, the report concludes.
The report also examined how states and localities are spending federal money that could be used to make the most dangerous streets safer. Findings show that Oregon spends less than 2% - only $1.28 per person - on pedestrian facilities and safety.
"Although Portland is considered safer for pedestrians than most metropolitan regions in the country, the spate of recent collisions in Portland between pedestrians and motorists prove that we are still clearly not investing enough to protect our citizens from speeding traffic," said Steph Routh.
On Oct. 31, Benjamin Story was struck in a hit and run collision when on Highway 99E just north of Aurora. On Nov. 1, John Thomas Nelson was hit and critically injured on Highway 217, Lindsay Leonard was killed and Jessica Finlay suffered serious injuries while crossing in a marked crosswalk on 80th and SE Foster. On Nov. 2, Susan Ogilvy was struck while crossing Scholls Ferry Road near Beaverton Hillsdale Highway.
The intersection at Scholls Ferry Rd. and Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, where Ms. Ogilvy was recently hit, is both congested and unsafe. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway is one of SW Portland's primary transportation corridors along with I-5 and Sunset Highway. The "Dangerous by Design" study reflects the danger inherent in walking along or crossing these types of major roads. More than 56 percent of the 6,367 pedestrian deaths in the urban areas studied occurred on major roads, like Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy.
While walking conditions remain perilous across the country, many communities are working to make their streets safe and welcoming for people on foot or bicycle, the report shows. Communities across the country are beginning to reverse the dangerous legacy of 50 years of anti-pedestrian policies by retrofitting or building new roads as "complete streets" that are safer for walking and bicycling as well as motorists.
Earlier this spring, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and TriMet worked with the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, SE Uplift, Elders in Action, and Impact Northwest to approve a crosswalk at 46th & Belmont near a bus stop and facilities used by senior citizens. The intersection had previously played host to pedestrian enforcement actions and served as an ongoing neighborhood priority for improvement.
"Here in the Portland area, we could be saving lives and encouraging more residents to engage in healthy levels of activity by investing in sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic calming and other safety measures," said Routh. "However, in many cases we are hampered by state and federal policies that continue to promote dangerous conditions."
"As Congress prepares to rewrite the nation's transportation law, this report is yet another wake-up call showing why it is so urgent to update our policies and spending priorities," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America.
The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition applauds Congressman Earl Blumenauer for his continued leadership in prioritizing funding for walking, cycling and mass transit as transportation modes.
Under the current federal transportation bill, less than 1.5 percent of available funds nationally are directed toward pedestrian safety, although pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of all traffic deaths and 9 percent of total trips. Between 2007 and 2008, more than 700 children under the age of 15 were killed walking.
Seven organizations served on the steering committee for this report, working closely with T4 America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. These organizations include the American Public Health Association, AARP, Smart Growth America, America Bikes, America Walks, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National Complete Streets Coalition.
November 9, 2009
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Fall 2009 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Joan Walker, UC Berkeley
Topic: The Power and Value of 'Green' in Promoting Sustainable Travel Behaviors
When: Friday, Nov 13, 2009, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
The Trib reports that according to "sources who declined to be identified" project staff are briefing local leaders on alternatives to trim the cost of the Columbia River Crossing project.
I thought we were supposed to have public process for this sort of thing? How about going back and doing a supplement DEIS to introduce some additional low cost options - like a supplemental bridge option?
We don't need CRC 1.1, we need a full 2.0 treatment.
November 6, 2009
The election of a new mayor in Vancouver, one who ran on the platform of a slimmed-down Columbia River Crossing that would not require tolls for funding, should be an opportunity to re-examine the fundamentals of the project.
The Oregonian editorial board is begging the presumed Mayor-elect to "shoulder the realities of this project".
Meanwhile, a coalition of five organizations have called for a new plan under the moniker of "CRC 2.0".
November 5, 2009
Thanks to the alert reader who forwarded this on:
Straub Hall (behind the Erb Memorial Student Union), Room 146 - Session III, Saturday, November 7th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm
The transportation network in the United States consists of a 20th Century system in a 21st century world. The costs of congestion hamper our economic development, our health and our environment. "High-Speed Rail: Moving towards a 21st Century Transportation Network" will discuss the merits of high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest and strategies to promote efficient, cost-effective passenger rail service in the region. The U.S. has a "third world" reputation when it comes to rail, even as bourgeoning economies such as Russia and China have invested in brand new high-speed rail networks. In our increasingly global and mobile world, it is crucial that our transportation network reflect the realities of peak oil and climate change. The federally designated "high-speed rail corridor," from Eugene to Vancouver B.C., coupled with the $8 billion dollars for high-speed rail development in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) has created the watershed moment for rail in the United States. Come to this panel to learn how to deliver high-speed rail and other transportation options that better reflect the needs of America's future.
To view the event program for PowerShift West, you can click on the link here: http://west.powershift09.org/sites/default/files/psw09-program-final.pdf
The panelists will include:
Price Armstrong is a graudate student in public administration at the University of Oregon, an avid cyclist, and a transportation activist. At U of O, Price heads LiveMove, the OTREC sponsored UO group dedicated to transportation and livability education and engagement.
Price also serves as the Vice President of Greater Eugene Area Riders, (GEARs) whose mission is to promote bicycle riding for transportation and recreation.
A UCLA Junior and State Board Chair of CALPIRG Students, Sarah got
her start mobilizing young voters in 2006, spearheading a 1,500-student peer-to-peer voter registration drive in the 2006 mid-term elections. Sarah went on to lead a campus effort to educate fellow students about student debt issues and the need to reduce college costs at the UCLA campus and ultimately helped win the passage of the federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act of September, 2007. In addition, Sarah led a student-run field campaign to pass Prop 1A - which provides $9 billion for California's High Speed Rail, the first in the United States.
Gabriel Elsner is currently the Global Warming Solutions coordinator for the Student PIRGs, a network of state-wide, student-run and student-funded organizations working in 25 states on over 200 campuses. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2009 with High Honors after writing a Political Science thesis entitled "Energy Security Policy in Brazil and the United States: Lessons from Success and Failure."
He also travelled to Bali, Indonesia with SustainUS in December 2007 to represent young people of the United States at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. When he's not advocating for clean energy or fighting global warming, Gabriel enjoys camping, music, soccer, and politics.
Lloyd Flem has been Executive director of All Aboard Washington, the state's leader rail advocacy organization, for 24 years. His role in fostering the development of the Amtrak
Cascades intercity passenger trains earned him the National Association of Railroad Passengers' national award for the year 2007. Lloyd has degrees in economic geography from the University of Washington and UC-Berkeley and for seven years taught at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He and his wife Darleen live in Olympia and have grown children and four grandchildren.
Fred Nussbaum has been working for better passenger rail service in Oregon for over three decades. Present in the early years of state-operated trains in the 1970s, Nussbaum served as Legislative Liaison for the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates (AORTA) from 1989 to 2009. Over that time, the Amtrak Cascades service has opened and expanded, but Nussbaum remains active in pushing Oregon to greater investments in greener transportation.
Moderator: Rob Zako, former Transportation Advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon
The agenda/questions of the panel are attached. The names in parenthesis are the panelists to whom the questions will be addressed.
November 4, 2009
Listen to the show (mp3, 28.2MB)
Elly and Sara talk with members of the Bike Temple and Bike Farm, two Portland-based community resource centers on a mission to support your spiritual and earthly bike needs.
[Editor's note: I have replaced the audio file with a different version with less hiss - apologies for the poor quality of the original version.]
A piece at Human Transit underscores the question: if TriMet drops frequency on it's "Frequent Service" routes to 17 minutes (the standard TriMet had defined was 15 minutes) are they still frequent?
November 3, 2009
OK, it's blatant promotion - but it's still a cool story. Check it out on their home page.
Monday's Oregonian points out that the Vancouver mayoral election is the not the definitive word on tolling for the Columbia River Crossing. In fact, tolling will be decided in the state capitols, by the Washington Legislature and the Oregon Transportation Commission.
In fact, although the article does not go into this, it would seem more likely that tolls would be collected on the Washington side where they could be applied to Light Rail capital costs, something that cannot be accomplished on the Oregon side due to the constitutional limitation on use of motor vehicle fees.
But local voters in Vancouver will still get their two cents in. They could tank the project by voting down the tax increase that would fund the Light Rail operations.
November 2, 2009
Streetsblog NY does a great job of documenting the fact that the Federal Government's investment in electric vehicles in six months is greater than the entire annual budget of the Federal Transit Administration.
And we won't even go near the GM bailout.