December 9, 2009
AWOL at the Portland Plan Workshops: Congestion Mitigation
One of the questions asked at the Portland Plan workshops is where the City should focus its limited transportation resources.
Different groups have had different top priorities: some favor transit, some sidewalks, one group said bikes.
But in all six workshops so far, congestion mitigation has been near the bottom, including at the downtown workshop focused on the business community (chart above).
Someone tell ODOT, please.
December 9, 2009 9:12 AM
Vancouver Resdient Says:
These results are skewed a little bit, based on the population polled for the study.
I obviously don't live in Portland (hence my "handle"), but I drive to Portland a lot for work. I didn't know that there were "Portland Plan" workshops and if I did know, I don't have the time to attend - I get paid by the hour and with supporting a family in this economy I need to work as much as I can and can't take time off for civic meetings.
So.....most of the people that attend these workshops are probably living in Portland. Congestion affects commuters from suburbs much more than people that live in Portland, as we drive longer distances and have fewer choices in our routes (only 2 choices for us Clark County residents). So congestion is going to get a low priority from the people attending the workshop because they are somewhat "self-selected".
Also, people attending these workshops are probably more interested in transit than the typical Portland Area resident. It's the same as people at a Timbers game are more interested in professional soccer and are more willing to have public money spent on a new stadium than people that never go to Timbers games.
So it's somewhat disingenuous to ask people to tell ODOT that congestion isn't an issue for those of us in the Portland area, when this survey came from a group with a bias (I mean that the sample is not a random selection of Portland Area residents).
December 9, 2009 9:39 AM
Hi Vancouver Resident,
Don't you think its interesting that relieving traffic congestion is near the bottom of the list, behind shipping, sidewalks, and way behind repair / maintenance?
I agree that more input from anyone who lives or works in the Portland area would be good, and I'm not saying the commute doesn't suck sometimes.
But, are you saying that the people who do take time from work to go to these meetings don't have full time jobs and don't care about their families? Transit users are disproportionately rich and single? Portland plan meetings should be held in Vancouver?
December 9, 2009 10:03 AM
When I read the post, I had the same thoughts as Vancouver Resident - this is a biased group. Ed, I didn't get your implication at all from his/her post - just that the group isn't randomly selected, as was stated. I suspect if a meeting was held in Vancouver, the results might be different, don't you?
This is always a problem with "surveys" taken at meetings. They only show what the folks that show up think. It would be foolish for us to assume the general population always agrees. That leads to last minute revolts when an decision based on biased data is made.
December 9, 2009 10:11 AM
Imagine if a transit agency acted like (and had the political and financial resources to do so) ODOT or WDOT.
There would be "bus levels of service", ranging from A to F or so, allocated as follows:
Level A: Everyone can sit where they want.
Level B: Passengers have to occasionally say "excuse me" as they walk past other (seated) passengers while boarding or disembarking.
Level C: Someone has to sit next to a stranger, without an intervening empty seat.
Level D: Passengers have to look real hard to find the few empty seats that are remaining; the aisle may occasionally be blocked.
Level E: The bus is SRO.
Level F: The bus is crushloaded.
Any level of service below C would be considered an unacceptable level of service, and would cause planners to add additional busses to the route. But since this is the DOT thinking, they would be adding busses ALL THROUGHOUT THE DAY, not just during the AM and PM rush.
It says a lot, I think, that transit agencies are frequently encouraged to increase usage of existing services (i.e. add congestion), but DOTs are permitted to try and build their way out of it.
December 9, 2009 10:35 AM
Ron Swaren Says:
A proposal for congestion mitigation: Stop inviting people to move here. There will be enough people moving here, having discovered this area by their own efforts, that city government doesn't have to get involved in the process, too. And by "not involved" I am also including some of these overblown transit plans which would spend billions and encourage job seekers to stay here.
Gov. Teddy's main rationalization for the CRC project, for example, has been that it "will create 27,000 jobs."
METRO's tentative proposals for upwards of twenty billion---in 2009 dollars, of course---for light rail lines even way out in the suburban regions are another case in point. Those areas could be served by buses for a tenth of that cost. I can see one million people moving here by 2050. But for the sake of sanity why 2 million? It's just part of the globalist agenda.
December 9, 2009 10:41 AM
I don't understand what you expect the City of Portland to do instead of public meetings ... force people to attend a public meeting? force people to answer a survey?
Of course people who have a certain opinion about a certain topic are going to be more inclined to attend a public meeting or answer a survey, but there is little the City can do to MAKE it's citizens provide input to the planning process.
While I understand the frustration with a seemingly biased survey result because only the people that attended the public meeting answered the survey, with that same logic you could say that elections are biased too... because the winners are determined only by the people that show up to vote.
And don't tell me that the City of Portland has a responsibility to host public meetings in Vancouver ... that would be like asking the US to have election booths in Canada.
December 9, 2009 11:19 AM
Bob R. Says:
Point taken, Aylene, but (as a complete aside), other nations do in fact set up election booths or ballot drop-points for expatriates in other nations. I don't know specifically what the US does (if anything) for our citizens residing in Canada.
But in keeping with your point, the Portland Plan has a lot to do with local transportation and zoning, and the implementation of which will be dealt with primarily by Portland residents, and the decisions will be made primarily by Portland and Multnomah County, so it makes perfect sense that the meetings are also held in Portland.
December 9, 2009 12:04 PM
Aylene, sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I was just pointing out that we should not act as though the surveys were statistically significant for the whole population. When we do that, and move forward thinking we understand what the public wants, we often have last-minute strong objections.
No, I don't expect the city to force people to come. Although I think they should have given more notice of the meetings (some of us have busy schedules) and that they should have waited until January when life in general wasn't so busy, I think the meetings in general are well done.
No, I don't expect Portland to set up a meeting in Vancouver. I only pointed out that -if they did- the views might probably be different. Those folks who work here but live elsewhere are part of Portland, too, if only because they spend a lot of time here, and probably shop here.
December 9, 2009 12:10 PM
A few weeks back, I attended a talk by Gordon Price (Vancouver, B.C.) on transportation issues. One of the many things he spoke about was "Planning for Congestion". In his city, they have purposely created a bottleneck on the way into the city where the traffic backs up onto a long causeway. On the causeway, there are no cross streets to block, so the slowed / stopped traffic doesn't cause problems in the city itself.
Hmmm. maybe that's what those 12 lanes on the proposed CRC bridge are for!
December 9, 2009 2:30 PM
Paul Johnson Says:
So that's what Gordon's calling it now? That's actually pretty rich. And the bottleneck is on the north end of the Causeway, which forces traffic to back up on to the Trans-Canada Freeway due to the Causeway exit's sharp corners, and eight lanes of interchange and surface street merging into one, maybe two lanes. Because downtown is on the south end of the Causeway, the Causeway doesn't absorb any of the load (and it generally moves, albeit slowly due to the low speed limit, being a park road). Northbound traffic out of downtown tends to flow more smoothly (especially with two lanes open) due to long greens at Marine Drive and good traffic channeling to the Trans-Canada. Still, if you have the option, spend the toonie and take your bicycle on the Seabus. Downtown motor traffic doesn't move save for the 3-person carpool, bus and bike lanes, and Vancouver's definitely ahead of Portland on bicycle accessibility. If you have to drive in Vancouver, bring friends: 3-person and 8-person carpool lanes are common on major surface streets in the southern mainland (and that's something we should seriously consider copying here in Portland). Good idea to avoid Vancouver altogether for a while, since in addition to carpool and bus lanes, many roads are going to be sacrificing the last remaining lane for an Olympic Lane network (athletes and media related to the Olympics, by permit only).
While I'm sure improving the flow of that interchange is not a priority, since the BC public is (rightfully) overwhelmingly against replacing the Lion's Gate Bridge (to the degree that even suggesting it has been political suicide for MLAs in the past), I'm pretty certain the bottleneck turned out to be a happy accident in terms of regulating flow into downtown.
December 9, 2009 7:38 PM
W. K. Lis Says:
Excuse me. But doesn't implementing #4—"bicycle facilities and bikeways", as well as #5—"transit facilities" both help to reduce #6—"relieve traffic congestion"?
December 9, 2009 8:47 PM
John E Says:
"But in all six workshops so far, congestion mitigation has been near the bottom,"
That aint the public. It Just shows who attended.
Polls out in the public show congestion relief at the top
The latest Poll finds Tigard residents prefer widening Oregon 99W to adding light rail.
Metro has anumber of polls showing the same.
Two polls, in recent years, in Tualatin had congestion so dominating that in second place for priority was "Not Sure" at 8%.
Go ahead and advocate all you want but you're not doing it for the public at lJarge.
December 10, 2009 8:17 AM
Aaron W. Says:
Johne E., I agree that who shows up at a meeting isn't necessarily a representative sample of the greater population, but the two studies you cite both are of suburban residents not residents of the city of Portland. Therefore, your data is no more valid with respect to the questions being asked.
December 10, 2009 8:35 AM
Jason Barbour Says:
However, it does show loud and clear who shows up for this kind of thing. When one person shows up from a supposed "silent majority" that claims they want wider roads to take them to a certain least-favorite retailer at 82nd and Holgate, they're going to be far outnumbered by bicyclists, transit users, pro-neighborhood folks, and those who'd like to see the number of large private vehicles on the road sharply reduced or perhaps even eliminated.
I will say there are some real, definite problems: namely, the number of unpaved and unimproved streets in Portland, those without sidewalks (Capitol Highway being a major one that sticks out in my mind), and transit service that isn't totally usable due to frequency reductions and elimination of daily service (or even all-day service) on some routes. There was a map in one of the papers a couple weeks ago that showed the area annexed by Portland since 1970 or so, and if one were to look at a transit map it looks like most of these areas have been, and are still ignored by, quality transit service.
I've heard all the complaints from those who don't attend meetings... that people have jobs, lives, kids, or whatever. However, those who show up to meetings also have at least one of the previous and finds the need to take the time to be involved in their community. I've also heard non-sequitor responses like "I won't understand the material" or "they don't want to hear what I have to say." The point is the material is supposed to be understandable, and they do want to hear what people have to say... so I say show up to meetings and grill away if necessary!