KBOO Bike Show: Bike Portland

Listen to the show (mp3, 26.5MB)

Steph interviews Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org. Publisher? Journalist? Blogger? Advocate? Or “just a guy” with a media empire…

47 Comments

47 Responses to KBOO Bike Show: Bike Portland

  1. Jim Lee
    January 3, 2013 at 9:55 am Link

    Also potential replacement for Tom Miller.

  2. Chris I
    January 3, 2013 at 10:04 am Link

    Haha, that would be amazing. I can imagine the response that would illicit from the pro-car people…

  3. Ron Swaren
    January 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm Link

    There is a very low number of riders on the Springwater Trail today (which goes right in front of my house). I have no idea why??? It’s about one percent, or less, that of the best summer volume. Does anyone know why???

  4. Jim Lee
    January 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm Link

    Jonathan Maus is a balanced and objective man. He and his wife own and operate a minivan with which they squire around their three children.

    There is no one in Portland who understands our current traffic infrastructure and transportation potential better than Jonathan, from all points of view. He knows the facts on the ground–”Where the rubber meets the road”– infinitely better than any product of Charlie’s national search for a self-aggrandizing transportation bureaucrat ever could–from years of intense effort.

    Plus, he is an extremely hard worker who has built a successful business around a unique and original publication. Anyone who can do that and support a family with it is more than competent and dedicated enough to run Portland’s Bureau of Transportation.

  5. JHB
    January 4, 2013 at 8:59 am Link

    Ron,

    There are fewer people using the trail because it is winter and very cold. It is boring to read these repeated disingenuous comments!

  6. JHB
    January 4, 2013 at 9:00 am Link

    Ron,

    There are fewer people using the trail because it is winter and very cold. It is boring to read these repeated disingenuous comments!

  7. m
    January 4, 2013 at 11:38 am Link

    It is also disingenuous to report commuter numbers taken on beautiful sunny days in August.

    It is cold and rainy here 8-9 months of the year. The number of cycling commuters are regularly over reported by the anti-car faction. I enjoy biking but do not like doing so when it is cold, dark, rainy, and dangerous. And based on Ron’s comment above, I am not alone.

  8. Allan
    January 4, 2013 at 11:55 am Link

    To inject some data:
    http://portland-hawthorne-bridge.visio-tools.com/
    peak: 8305
    thursday 1/3: 3262

  9. Nick Falbo
    January 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm Link

    m,

    There is a misconception out there that the City uses their summer bike counts to predict or claim bicycle mode share. They do not.

    When you hear about commute numbers, those come straight from the US Census.

    The summer bike counts are used to measure general change, year to year, at the specific count locations. These numbers provide useful data on changes rider gender, helmet use, and ridership growth along the designated bike network.

    The count report does claim an “increase/decrease of XX% in 2012″ but, that change is relevant only to the summer count periods.

  10. m
    January 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm Link

    “When you hear about commute numbers, those come straight from the US Census.”

    Where does the Census get its numbers?

  11. EngineerScotty
    January 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm Link

    M,

    All modes see seasonality in their ridership–TriMet generally has more ridership in summer months than winter months. Much of this is more trips being taken in the summer than in the winter.

    I’m not sure what your point is here. Nobody takes commute statistics in the busiest month of the year and multiplies that by twelve to produce annual statistics.

    And who, may I ask is the “anti-car faction?”, and why would we be more concerned about them than about the “anti-bike faction”? Certainly, there are influential people in town (and influential financiers from elsewhere) who want to put a shiv in the spokes of Portland’s expansion of bike infrastructure–why do you act as though only automobile infrastructure is entitled to public funding, which bike infrastructure is somehow poaching?

  12. m
    January 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm Link

    The anti-car faction consists of:

    1. People who think it is a good idea to recreate in other parts of the city the density of the NW Alphabet District without sufficient parking to deal with the inevitable cars that will come with it.

    2. People who ignore the real world modern convenience of cars and would like Portland to be a utopian city where we all walk and bike everywhere. (Portland has neither the density nor transportation infrastructure for this. The latter is being made even worse with the continued decimation of the bus system).

    I support funding bike infrastructure. But that funding and opinions related thereto are based in part on numbers which are regularly exaggerated and not based on the reality of our climate for most of the year and density for a city of this size.

  13. Nick Falbo
    January 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm Link

    m,

    The most commonly cited commute data comes from the American Community Survey, which is a randomly sampled and conducted annually:

    American Community Survey

    The results are pretty dramatic, with impressive bike mode share in the inner neighborhoods. I couldn’t find a more detailed map, but this map shows over 8% mode share for SE Portland (all the way out to 82nd). Data for close-in neighborhoods show double digit bike mode share.

    Citywide, the latest numbers report 6.3% of trips to work are by bicycle.

  14. Nick Falbo
    January 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm Link

    And, just to put that citywide 6.3% in perspective:

    Imagine a standard residential Portland block with 8 houses. Assuming two working adults in each house. If one person on that entire block rides their bike to work, that’s 6.3% right there.

    From my block off 80th Ave, I ride to work. I am the 6.3%.

  15. EngineerScotty
    January 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm Link

    m,

    The “alphabet district” itself seems to thrive without a parking garage on every other corner, indeed the lack of same appears to be part of its charm. There’s plenty of neighborhoods in Portland and surrounding suburbs where parking is plentiful–where zoning makes sure that density doesn’t produce competition for parking spaces, and building codes require acres of asphalt be laid down to ensure nobody ever has to drive around the (proverbial in many places) block.

    Yet housing prices (whether sale or rental) seem to be highest in the dense parts of Portland. You can buy real estate for $100-$150/square foot in the burbs (and rent for around $1/square foot/month), but Portland real estate is much, much, more expensive.

    Seems to me the demand far exceeds the supply. Yet here you are, trying to keep the supply down by making it hard to satisfy the demand.

    As far as the “real world modern convenience” of cars; whether they are a convenience or a headache depends a lot on where you live. If you live in suburbia, they’re a must-have, given that little will be within walking distance, and you’ll be lucky if the bus comes by once every half hour. If you live in much of Portland, though, they become far less necessary–and many people regard them as a hassle.

    I don’t expect that Portland will ever be a “utopian city where we all walk and bike everywhere”; I do want it to be a city where car ownership is not a requirement for a comfortable existence. Right now, in too many parts of the metro area, if you don’t have one you are dead in the water.

    (You’ll get no argument from me on “continued decimation” of the bus system, though bike infrastructure has rather little to do with that).

  16. Allan
    January 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm Link

    a bunch of bike advocates like to rag on the ACS because it asks what you did for the majority of the past week- which makes a 1x/week or 2x/week bike commuter show up as their other mode. That being said, I think its a fairly consistent indicator of where we are

  17. Allan
    January 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm Link

    I have to say that the climate argument is not as cut and dry as you seem to want to make it.

    Yes rain is a pain, but the cold can be a blessing. When we exercise and its warm, we sweat a lot. However with our mild climate, for the majority of the year this is not as much of a concern. Some of the cities heralded for bicycle use (Amsterdam, Copenhagen) have similar or worse weather than Portland

  18. m
    January 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm Link

    EngineerScotty:

    Thanks for acknowledging you are part of the anti-car faction.

    Housing prices generally have more to do with proximity to downtown than they do with density, so I disagree with you there. See: Dunthorpe, Healy Heights.

    With regard to cars not being necessary in “much of Portland”, you are in a state of complete denial. Do you live in inner SE Portland?

    Even assuming the 6.3% is accurate above, a super-majority of even those people own and regularly use cars. Cars are here to stay in Portland as the primary mode of transportation for so long as it is cold and rainy 8-9 months a year. That is the reality.

    When electric cars become cheaper, the numbers will go up, not down. We need to deal with and prepare for that reality.

  19. dwainedibbly
    January 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm Link

    Allan: you are very correct, in my experience. When I lived in North Florida it was nearly impossible to commute by bike in the summer. (“Summer” defined as mid-May through September.) A morning low of 78 doesn’t seem bad, but when there is nearly 100% humidity, you can sweat just by moving. I built an ebike (using a Wilderness Energy conversion kit) just for summer commuting.

  20. Nick Falbo
    January 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm Link

    m, your criticism was partly attached to the idea of “city funding based on exaggerated numbers.”

    Let’s say the 6.3% number is accurate. Portland today does not spend more than 6.3% of funds on bicycle related infrastructure. Maybe they should.

    As for whether the city has exaggerated aspirations for the future of bicyling, that may be true. They are planning for 25% of trips by bicycle.

    This seems like a lot, but it might be more achievable than you think. No one expects 25% of the residents living east I-205 to be commuting by bicycle. The majority of the bike trips will be made by inner portland residents living within 3 miles of the central city. I think the latest ACS data already shows 20% bike commuting in one close-in census tract.

    Can we get to 25%? I think it’s possible. Can we do it while spending only 6.3% of the transportation budget on bicycle infrastructure? Probably not.

  21. m
    January 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm Link

    Nick:

    How about we use all of the money generated from bikes on bike infrastructure and the money from cars on car infrastructure? That would be fair, wouldn’t it?

    Seriously though, I support bike spending and am a huge proponent of the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. But I am not a fan of folks who are more anti-car than they are pro-bicycle. It ignores reality.

    The problem I have with your example above is that even with a huge increase in bike funding, it will only benefit a tiny percentage of the overall population of the city.

  22. Bob R.
    January 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm Link

    Thanks for acknowledging you are part of the anti-car faction.

    Oh, please. (You’re really winning over converts with that kind of cynical spin.)

    I’ll try and put what Scotty’s saying in the form of an analogy: Deciding to put slightly less money into a kitchen expansion so that slightly more can be spent on a larger master suite does not make someone “anti-kitchen”.

    Why not stick to facts and explain what you’d like Portland to look like, policy-wise, regarding bikes and other modes, and how that might differ from current or proposed actual policies.

  23. m
    January 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm Link

    “Why not stick to facts and explain what you’d like Portland to look like, policy-wise, regarding bikes and other modes, and how that might differ from current or proposed actual policies.”

    1. End all future funding for streetcar expansion. The Streetcar is a scam of the highest order. It is touted as an effective transportation method and development tool but actually accomplishes neither while being extremely expensive. I can (and do so regularly) walk faster than a trip on the streetcar and the development comes from property tax abatements not the streetcar (even Mr. Hales admits to that if you look back far enough).

    2. Invest in high efficiency buses that run frequently with express and local lines. This can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of streetcars.

    3. Invest in bike only travel lanes such as the Sullivan’s gulch trail. (I am aware of the UP issue but I would work to find incentives for them to get on board). The space is there. While weather is an issue, the primary reason I think most people are not regular bikers is safety. Things like Green boxes are a false promise and a complete waste of money if you are interested in getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes. They only way to do that is to provide separate bike only travel lines.

    4. End the opposition to a helmet law requirement for bikers. It defies common sense and makes the pro bikers seem radical and not part of the main stream (I am aware of the European arguments; this isn’t Europe. If we had more of #4 above, this becomes less of an issue).

    5. Shut down the PDC and end urban renewal. UR eats up 1/4 of the city’s budget and suffers from mission creep. The most recent so called Education Urban Renewal zone includes property near the MAC (the polar opposite of a blighted neighborhood) and covers an area that is approximately 70% tax exempt property (this defeats the purpose of TIF). It is a locally funded scam for a state funded institution (PSU). This would free up millions of dollars for basic services.

    6. Restore frequent bus service to the many areas that have been neglected in recent years.

    7. Require some onsite parking for most new apartment buildings going up in the city.

    8. Fix measure 5 to allow for more local funding of schools and slowly increase property taxes to make them more in line with real market values.

    9. Annex Dunthorpe to be a part of the city.

    10. Build the CRC to look like the 205 bridge. Boring, inexpensive, and effective. Do not include light rail. It is too expensive, Vancouver doesn’t want it, and it is not practical since the yellow line is a local line the entire way. The yellow line should have been built with capacity for express trains.

  24. Nick theoldurbanist
    January 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm Link

    “Also potential replacement for Tom Miller.”

    >>>> You gotta be kidding. And I don’t drive a car, either.

  25. EngineerScotty
    January 4, 2013 at 8:18 pm Link

    m wrote:

    1. End all future funding for streetcar expansion. The Streetcar is a scam of the highest order. It is touted as an effective transportation method and development tool but actually accomplishes neither while being extremely expensive. I can (and do so regularly) walk faster than a trip on the streetcar and the development comes from property tax abatements not the streetcar (even Mr. Hales admits to that if you look back far enough).

    While I often criticize Streetcar, I should point out that Portland Streetcar, Inc. is rather open about their goals, and that they consider it a land-use tool rather than a mobility improvement. The big question is to what extent TriMet should subsidize Streetcar (particularly given the fare disparity between it and the rest of the system), especially given that Streetcar duplicates some TriMet routes, and in some cases the operating dollars could arguably be better spent elsewhere.

    2. Invest in high efficiency buses that run frequently with express and local lines. This can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of streetcars.

    I’m all for that. Note that for bus service to be notably different from local bus service, busses have to have things like exclusive lanes and/or signal priority. Do you support taking lanes away from cars to expedite bus traffic?

    3. Invest in bike only travel lanes such as the Sullivan’s gulch trail. (I am aware of the UP issue but I would work to find incentives for them to get on board). The space is there. While weather is an issue, the primary reason I think most people are not regular bikers is safety. Things like Green boxes are a false promise and a complete waste of money if you are interested in getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes. They only way to do that is to provide separate bike only travel lines.

    A combination of techniques works; including both better ways of sharing the road (many cyclists are perfectly happy to ride in mixed traffic) and bike-exclusive infrastructure. That said, building new facilities is expensive; sometimes the cheapest way is with a can of paint, but when that happens, folks get accuses of having an “anti-car” agenda. We here support things like converting auto lanes to bike or bus; none of the editors here at PT want to ban the automobile, however.

    4. End the opposition to a helmet law requirement for bikers. It defies common sense and makes the pro bikers seem radical and not part of the main stream (I am aware of the European arguments; this isn’t Europe. If we had more of #4 above, this becomes less of an issue).

    This issue I don’t have a big opinion on. Everyone in my family wears a helmet, FWIW.

    5. Shut down the PDC and end urban renewal. UR eats up 1/4 of the city’s budget and suffers from mission creep. The most recent so called Education Urban Renewal zone includes property near the MAC (the polar opposite of a blighted neighborhood) and covers an area that is approximately 70% tax exempt property (this defeats the purpose of TIF). It is a locally funded scam for a state funded institution (PSU). This would free up millions of dollars for basic services.

    I think it would be nicer if there were better ways of value capture, as UR has issues and can be abused. I won’t comment on the specific UR proposal you mention, not knowing enough about it.

    6. Restore frequent bus service to the many areas that have been neglected in recent years.

    Yes, certainly.

    7. Require some onsite parking for most new apartment buildings going up in the city.

    How much is “some”? Should apartment managers also be required to build bus shelters, bike racks, and other such things? Here, we disagree–if the market does not demand apartments with ample parking, why should we insist that they be built? To ensure that on-street parking is never scarce? To discourage development at all (by making it too costly) and/or to keep rents high and the riff-raff out?

    8. Fix measure 5 to allow for more local funding of schools and slowly increase property taxes to make them more in line with real market values.

    I’ll agree with this.

    9. Annex Dunthorpe to be a part of the city.

    I’m sympathetic in principle, but if Dunthorpe does not wish to be annexed–and like many wealthy communities, they seem to live in fear that their taxes might be used to subsidize the proles in NE or wherever–they won’t be. They have enough lawyers, guns, and money (or at least the first and the third) to keep Portland at bay.

    10. Build the CRC to look like the 205 bridge. Boring, inexpensive, and effective. Do not include light rail. It is too expensive, Vancouver doesn’t want it, and it is not practical since the yellow line is a local line the entire way. The yellow line should have been built with capacity for express trains.

    Of course, you can turn this around and say “build the CRC to look like the new Milwaukie MAX bridge. Boring, inexpensive, and effective. Do not include freeway lanes and interchange redesign. They are too expensive, Portland does not want it, and it is not practical since I-5 is not an eight-lane behemoth the entire way.”

    Many of us here at PT would rather the CRC not be built here at all, but you have to understand: many Portlanders regard expansion of I-5 with as much disdain as Couverites regard light rail. There are other ways to improve freight mobility without making it more convenient for folks to live in Battle Ground and drive to jobs in Portland (after all, that’s where the jobs in the Metro area are) and back. Freeways are bad for cities in many ways; a big one is that they encourage all sorts of economic arbitrage–in which the well-healed enjoy the economic and cultural benefits of the city, but live beyond its borders and thus pay nothing for its upkeep. Capital flight has destroyed many US cities. Since you mention Dunthorpe in the previous item, you clearly understand the phenomenon; many other parts of the world solve the problem by permitting cities to annex suburbs, and/or prevent the creation of distinct municipalities on the fringe. Obviously, Portland isn’t going to be annexing anything in Washington State–but you can see why those who live in the city might not consider it a good idea to further enable this sort of thing.

  26. m
    January 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm Link

    “some cases the operating dollars could arguably be better spent elsewhere.”

    I would say all cases. Transportation money should go to buses, not property development tools.

    “Do you support taking lanes away from cars to expedite bus traffic?”

    Yes, if there is room for buses to travel around disabled buses. This is another fundamental flaw with the streetcar. One breaks down, and it cripples the whole system. Mass transit for so called “choice” riders like me needs to be rapid, safe, frequent, and reliable. The EMX in Eugene is a good model. With some exceptions, I do not support the same for bikes. It benefits too small of a group to justify the cost in money and lost space for cars.

    “why should we insist that they [buildings with parking] be built?”

    Because when you subsidize apartment buildings with property tax abatements (like most of the Pearl and South Waterfront), you can’t then turn around and argue in favor of the so called free market. Developers don’t care about their impact to the areas they are building. They are interested in maximizing profits. The way to do that is to build as many units as possible. When people buy in a certain area, part of what they are paying for is congestion (small or great) and proximity to downtown. New development impacts the existing residents. They should be considered. If equity is a concern, the city could subsidize additional costs for parking. It is insulting to the intelligence of most people to say that these people who move in won’t own and use cars. The city’s solution is to use it as revenue tool by then forcing people to buy a permit to park in front of (if they are lucky) their own home. Talk about cynical behavior. I am not familiar with the details of the numbers/studies but it should be less than 1 space per unit but certainly more than 0 as a requirement. Maybe 0.5?

    With regard to the CRC, with all due respect I think it is naive to think that there would ever be a rail only bridge built to Vancouver as the only solution. The best you could hope for is the status quo. I would add a #11 to my list above: expand the choke points of I5 to 3 lanes where it currently goes down to 2 lanes (e.g., near the rose quarter). I am not in favor of mass highway expansion (I am familiar with the Robert Moses arguments), but I think it is important to address choke points. The current CRC is too old and narrow. I would duplicate the 205 bridge and call it a day. Just as it is inconvenient for Portlanders to talk about those coal powered plants in Wyoming lighting their homes, this country is dependent on trucking as the backbone of our transportation economy. I5 is vital to that and the current bridge is a choke point that needs to be addressed. I agree that Capital flight has destroyed many cities but I believe the education system has contributed more to that than extra lanes on a highway. West Linn and LO have some of the best schools in the state while PPS is continuing to struggle (with some notable exceptions). Improve the schools and the issue is moot as far as I am concerned.

  27. Ron Swaren
    January 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm Link

    “2. Invest in high efficiency buses that run frequently with express and local lines. This can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of streetcars. ”

    Well….certainly a fraction of light rail.

    That’s what Everett WA has done with their new express buses. In their case, they cut out the non-productive lines. They are projecting a 25 percent increase.
    “Local bus service within Snohomish County has seen a 31 percent increase in boardings per hour.”
    http://mukilteobeacon.villagesoup.com/p/community-transit-seeks-25-percent-more-riders-without-adding-more-service/944399

  28. EngineerScotty
    January 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm Link

    m,

    By “taking lanes away from cars (for busses)”, I refer to bus lanes–places where it is illegal for cars to drive; preferably continuous ones.

    I agree completely (and there is plenty of commentary from me on this site to that effect) that this a cheap way to do effective mass transit.

    But it requires taking lanes away from automobiles, in many cases–and the footprint of a bus lane is far bigger than the footprint of a bike lane. (That said, many view bike lanes as a benefit to motorists, as they get slower-moving bikes in their own lane, rather than potentially slowing down cars on mixed-traffic streets.)

    Unfortunately, much bus infrastructure (particularly pullouts) are not to the benefit of the bus and its passengers, but to motorists.

    On the subject of parking: It’s useful to distinguish brownfield developments like the Pearl and SoWa–both of which are sufficiently high-density that “enough parking for everybody” is not possible–with much of the infill development that folks seem to complain the most about. When there are no existing neighbors, it’s hard to complain about low parking availability in these places–if you don’t like to live there, don’t move there. The bigger fight seems to be the various low-rise and mid-rise apartments going up in vacant lots around town–there, there is an established residential neighborhood, some of which resent the new construction as an intrusion, for various reasons (including a few prejudicial reasons). Most of these, however, are entirely private projects, without tax dollars going to pay for them; and many of the builders have claimed that the projects would not pencil out (and thus not have been built) had parking requirements been imposed.

    Do you think that existing neighbors have a “right” to some fraction of on-street parking, that is being unfairly diluted by new construction?

  29. bjcefola
    January 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm Link

    If equity is a concern, the city could subsidize additional costs for parking…

    m, if you want to promote a city-wide tax to subsidize apartments (and specifically parking structures for apartments) go ahead. But on the off chance that such a plan won’t fly, you’re stuck with real equity problems of the not “if” variety. Residents of new construction shouldn’t have to pay for off-street parking just so that current residents can continue to avoid doing so.

  30. m
    January 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm Link

    I understand it requires taking away car lanes. I support this in limited cases for major bus lines.

    The primary issue is how do you get people out their cars and to use alternatives. For choice riders, I think the benefit has to be speed, frequency, and reliability. That is the attractiveness of MAX. The streetcar offers none of that and is very expensive. But MAX is even more expensive. Regular buses sitting in traffic with stops every 2 blocks is not attractive to many choice riders. The 14 bus near the east side of the Hawthorne bridge has an express lane that works great. That is why so many people park their car nearby and get on for the short ride. Speed, frequency, and reliability.

    Bike only lanes benefit too few people to be a real solution. Are you familiar with EMX in Eugene? Projects like that provide a much bigger bang for the buck.

    “and many of the builders have claimed that the projects would not pencil out (and thus not have been built) had parking requirements been imposed.”

    I call BS on them for that. It might mean lower profits, but they could still make money. They somehow managed to build when the banks required parking in order to get a loan and still made money.

    With regard to existing neighbors, I am not personally impacted by these buildings (at least not yet) but I think it is reasonable for a neighborhood to have some control over the density in their area. It is factored into the price they pay for their home. So the short answer to your question is yes, I do. I think it is part of the quality of life that a person considers and pays for when buying their home. If you buy a home in a high density neighborhood, I don’t think you have much to complain about, but if the density comes to you, it is a much different story. It amounts to a type of taking (a la eminent domain) in my view that impacts property/quality of life.

  31. m
    January 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm Link

    “Residents of new construction shouldn’t have to pay for off-street parking just so that current residents can continue to avoid doing so.”

    The current residents paid for it when they purchased a home with a driveway for one car (most homes at least). Why should the existing residents then have to subsidize the new people by not requiring them to have parking? In the neighborhoods that don’t have driveways, parking is already at a premium.

  32. EngineerScotty
    January 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm Link

    Current residents, by purchasing a home with a driveway and/or garage, have thereby also purchased some interest in the on-street parking? If someone in a nearby apartment parks in my driveway, I’m perfectly entitled to call for a tow.

    I’m sure that if you check the deeds and CCRs of such housing stock, you will find no mention of any interest in the parking in the public right-of-way. On street parking, along with many other things, is a service that the city provides, but isn’t (nor ought it be) a right.

    That’s like complaining that new construction “dilutes” your interest in the neighborhood park, because there will now be more children wanting to take turns on the swing set.

    WRT bike lanes–they’re cheap, so claims they have little “bang for buck” run into the problem that the denominator of that fraction is so low. Some bike lanes that have been installed are mere repainting jobs; often consuming part of an extra-wide road shoulder. Another common practices is converting a 4-lane road with no turning refuge (an inefficient and dangerous configuration) into a three-lane road with two bike lanes (one through traffic lane in each direction, and a center turning refuge); a much more efficient configuration as it removes most of the obstacles to through traffic from the through lanes, and discourages dangerous passing maneuvers.

    That’s a big reason why the city has been doing them–they permit personal mobility at a tiny fraction of the cost of roadbuilding.

  33. dwainedibbly
    January 5, 2013 at 6:13 am Link

    “many Portlanders regard expansion of I-5 with as much disdain as Couverites regard light rail” –EngineerScotty

    Well said!

    m wrote that “Bike only lanes benefit too few people to be a real solution.” That’s completely ignoring the fact that every bike that you add by improving infrastructure is potentially 1 less car on the road, freeing capacity for those who choose to drive.

  34. Ron Swaren
    January 5, 2013 at 7:52 am Link

    There should be free electricity generated from the new MLR bridge that could be used to power electric buses (if we had them) but I ‘m not going to say where it would come from. Here’s an all electric bus that would meet a lot of inner city needs:
    http://nwnewsnetwork.org/post/battery-powered-electric-buses-hit-streets-northwest

    Ours would not even have to come from grid electricity; I know how.

  35. bjcefola
    January 5, 2013 at 8:06 am Link

    m, if residents have adequate off-street parking for all their vehicles then what do they care about the home address of the people parking curbside?

    If current residents don’t have adequate off-street parking for all their vehicles (or if they repurposed that space) then how are they better than residents of apartments? Why should they get preferential treatment?

    If current residents deserve preferential treatment over new residents why stop at parking? Maybe we should have a law that residents of apartments need to let single family home residents cut to the front of the line at the coffee shop. Maybe restaurants should have people put down their address on the waiting list so they can seat single family home residents first. Maybe apartment residents should have to ride at the back of the bus, so that if single family home residents get on they won’t have to walk past a seat they might have otherwise occupied.

    I don’t have a problem with arguing about community control over density, if people advocating for parking minimums are really seeking that they’d do well to stop obfuscating. Because the argument that people have different rights or belong to a different class based on how long they’ve lived here is repulsive.

  36. Ron Swaren
    January 5, 2013 at 8:14 am Link

    Why should bikes and peds use the sidewalk since the property owners pays for it?

    Then there are issues of perceived value, historic use, equitable application of law.. Are you going to say that someone in close in SE or NW should give up free parking or parking at all, and someone out on SE 86th doesn’t. Where is the equity? This new policy seems to be a lopsided application of justice.

  37. m
    January 5, 2013 at 9:47 am Link

    By “bang for the buck” I mean not only the dollar cost but the impact on the existing infrastructure. If people are sitting in a crowded one lane of car traffic and look over to see what used to be a car lane now being used by a small percentage of bikes going by (particularly during the 8-9 months of years when it is cold and rainy), that isn’t likely to induce as many to abandon their cars than if they looked over and saw express buses zooming downtown every few minutes. The bike lane has a huge impact on traffic for a small percentage of people. As much as the bikers would like it to be, most people don’t want to ride in the cold, dark, and rain for most of the year. They will, however, get out of their cars if an express bus is within a 5-10 minute walk from their home that zooms downtown in a bus only lane with few stops while they enjoy their coffee and do some reading.

    With regard to parking, there is already a law on the books that says you can’t leave a car parked on the street for more than 24 hours. How about we enforce the existing laws?

  38. EngineerScotty
    January 5, 2013 at 9:49 am Link

    Ron, you do bring up a good point, a drum I’ve beaten several times: Why is the marginal cost (to a homeowner) of maintaining a street “zero” (it comes out of his tax bill, and he pays the same taxes regardless of whether his street, or someone else’s, gets paved), but the homeowner personally responsible (including personal liability for accidents due to improper upkeep) for keeping the sidewalk in front of his house in acceptable shape?

    It almost seems it should be the other way around…

    As far as SE 86th goes, I would think the same principle applies out thereabouts. Were demand for housing to go up, and vacant lots to be turned into apartments, then one might find fewer curbside spaces available. Right now, SE 86th is not an in-demand neighborhood, particularly south of Powell (in fact there’s already a mid-rise apartment at 86th and Powell, albeit one with parking); and some neighborhoods in that part of town are generally considered to be slummy. But 86th has good transit access, lying between the Green Line and the 72, so if it did gentrify and become a popular spot for developers, the same rules ought to apply.

  39. EngineerScotty
    January 5, 2013 at 10:14 am Link

    m,

    While “looking attractive to motorists” is a good attribute of transportation infrastructure, it isn’t (nor should be) the primary one. The purpose primary of a bike lane, bus lane, auto lane, or rail right-of-way should be to safely and efficiently transport the users of that mode to their destination, not to appeal to the guy stuck in traffic next to them.

    One issue with Portland’s planning is that it too frequently focuses on attracting new ridership more than it does on improving the lot of existing users, with the result of diluting existing service. There are several good reasons that this occurs (federal funding/evaluation formulas place emphasis on new ridership, and the region’s environmental goals–which many lower-income transit users don’t care much about, they just want better service–depend on reducing auto use, which implies inducing motorists to switch), but it has partially led to the situation we have now, with existing riders experiencing noticeably declining service.

    And in practice, many motorists, when seeing the bus or bike or train, zooming past them, rather than contemplating a switch to a less environmentally damaging mode–instead start fuming about “wars on cars” and complaining to their elected officials that bicyclists and bus users are somehow stealing what is rightfully theirs. There are many people in town with the attitude that maintaining roads for private autos is the single raison d’etre of the public works department, and that bike lanes and other things Not For Cars are frivolous extras which ought to be eliminated from the budget, particularly in leaner economic times.

    At any rate, there are countless neighborhood streets in town that are maintained on the public dime, but are used far less than many arterial bike lanes. Dead-end streets, in particular, are used only by the residents thereon and their guests; should we stop funding these and focus only on maintaining arterials? For any budget priority you think is good, there are other budget priorities that must be foregone–the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” argument is not a good one. At a minimum, it invites an argument as to whether Peter or Paul is more deserving of funding–and in these discussions, the past practice of giving Peter the lion’s share is not a good argument for why Paul should continue to be stiffed going forward.

    One other minor point: An “express bus” generally refers to a limited service bus that runs nonstop between two destinations (or clusters thereof), particularly one that only operates during rush hour; building dedicated infrastructure for express busses is generally wasteful. I assume you mean a “rapid bus” or BRT line.

  40. Jim Lee
    January 5, 2013 at 10:32 am Link

    How could I be joking?

    Tom Miller was a skateboard advocate, and did not even have a blog!

    Off topic–like everyone else–those rusting steel contraptions newly installed across Grand from Multnomah County’s headquarters look like torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition, or the prutanshyr from Jack Vance’s “Trullion.”

    What are they, actually?

  41. Chris Smith
    January 5, 2013 at 10:53 am Link

    The metal sculptures are public art, required under Oregon’s 1% for art legislation. My understanding is that they are intended to evoke an iron foundry that once existed at that location.

    Please address complaints to the Regional Arts and Culture Commission, not Portland Streetcar :-)

    Personally, I find them kind of interesting.

  42. m
    January 5, 2013 at 11:31 am Link

    “The purpose primary of a bike lane, bus lane, auto lane, or rail right-of-way should be to safely and efficiently transport the users of that mode to their destination, not to appeal to the guy stuck in traffic next to them.”

    If we were starting from a blank slate, I would agree with this. But we aren’t. The reality is, most people drive their cars. How do we get them out of their cars? I fundamentally disagree with the notion that taking significant amounts of car lanes away for bikes is going to get most people to bike in the cold, dark, and rain for 8 months of the year in Portland, Oregon. I just don’t buy it. We need to deal with reality. Buses that have few stops and dedicated lanes are the most cost effective way to do that IMO.

  43. Ron Swaren
    January 5, 2013 at 11:34 am Link

    ” but the homeowner personally responsible (including personal liability for accidents due to improper upkeep) for keeping the sidewalk in front of his house in acceptable shape?”

    I would wonder why so many property owners get away with tree roots lifting the sidewalk up four inches??? Then across from me at the school the trees the environmental geniuses planted had broken the sidewalks within fifteen years—so no wonder PPS needs more money!

    There are a lot of intricate questions surrounding sidewalks, ROW, and on-street parking that fluctuate with which groups want zoning changes, who is going to profit, who isn’t. Etc.

    Now, I would rather see a discussion of proposed alternatives to fuel tax being considered in Salem. IMO, what should be done on that issue is to analyze cost efficient methods on all transportation infrastructure. One example would be prefabrication, since on site construction is labor intensive.

  44. EngineerScotty
    January 5, 2013 at 11:53 am Link

    How do we get them out of their cars?

    By not subsidizing driving as much?

    So long as we feel it a necessity to provide things like free parking (either via provision of on-street parking by the government, or mandates that apartments and businesses provide parking lots for residents and customers), and devote most of the blacktop to cars, and use design standards that assume that rapid mobility of automobiles and trucks is the primary concern of public works, driving will remain the most convenient mode.

    People abstractly wonder why more motorists don’t switch–yet object when government policies actually do things that might discourage driving, such as reducing lane capacity. People wonder why more motorists don’t switch, yet dismiss the growing minority of those who have switched as a fringe element whose needs ought not be addressed by public policy (the majoratorian argument–”most people drive, so driving should get most if not all of the resources”–is more common than you think). People seem to think that only carrots and not sticks be used–but complain when there’s a shortage of carrots.

  45. Ron Swaren
    January 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm Link

    “So long as we feel it a necessity to provide things like free parking (either via provision of on-street parking by the government, or mandates that apartments and businesses provide parking lots for residents and customers), and devote most of the blacktop to cars, and use design standards that assume that rapid mobility of automobiles and trucks is the primary concern of public works, driving will remain the most convenient mode.”

    So the police, fire, EMT, delivery vehicles, USPS, city personnel, visiting salespeople, Fed EX, UPS, taxi cabs, county and state workers, tradespeople, professional services—what do they do? Park in the yard?

  46. EngineerScotty
    January 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm Link

    So the police, fire, EMT, delivery vehicles, USPS, city personnel, visiting salespeople, Fed EX, UPS, taxi cabs, county and state workers, tradespeople, professional services—what do they do? Park in the yard?

    Emergency services generally can park or stand where they like. Delivery vehicles of all sorts generally don’t stay long; I’m concerned with long-term parking/storage, not short-term standing. But I’m perfectly fine with reserving parking stalls for service vehicles.

  47. m
    January 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm Link

    “People seem to think that only carrots and not sticks be used–but complain when there’s a shortage of carrots.”

    This is the type of mentality that drives most car folks crazy and leads to identifying these groups as extreme and calling them the anti-car faction. Policies that seek to force people out of their cars without providing real alternatives is counterproductive and will lead to further divisiveness. There is plenty of money for both if we stop subsidizing developers with things like urban renewal.

    You need to acknowledge how the world currently is, not how you wish it had been made. Acknowledge reality and move forward with incentives. Cars are here to stay. When electric cars become cheaper and more efficient, there will be more cars, not fewer. People paying gas taxes are simply not going to be supportive of huge investments in bike lanes that reduce their traffic lanes if there are not real alternatives. That is the reality. Deal with it and come up with carrots. Using sticks while taking away carrots (i.e, cutting bus service) is counterproductive and just plain stupid IMO. The simplest way to do it in my view are buses with dedicated lanes and few stops.

    This paternalistic, we know how you should live your current life better than you, mentality of the city drives even liberal democrats like me crazy sometimes.

Leave a Reply

By posting a comment, you are granting a license to Portland Transport for your comment. Please refer to The Rules.