Archive | Climate Change

Does Metro’s Climate Smart Communities Plan Do Enough for Active Transportation?

I’ve been struggling for a week with how to write this post, and I’m grateful to Michael Andersen at BikePortland, who has covered many of the great things about Metro’s Climate Smart Communities plan.

That leaves me free to write to a counterpoint, questioning whether in fact it does enough for active transportation.

First, let’s talk a bit about the plan. It’s a response to a mandate from the Legislature to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation. Metro considered three alternatives when developing the plan:

A) Keep building in the pattern we have been

B) Build what’s in the RTP (Regional Transportation Plan)

C) Get more aggressive and develop new policies to reduce GHG

The draft plan in front of us for comment is essentially option B+. It’s what’s in today’s constrained RTP, plus about $5B in additional transit funding (for which we will need to find new funding sources).

The political logic for this is pretty straightforward. Rather than a big lift for new policies, let’s just amp up a bit what we’ve already got regional agreement on. That turns out to be sufficient to meet the state GHG goals (a 20%  reduction in transportation GHG contribution from the 2005 levels by 2035).

So what’s not to like? I would suggest there are at least two ways in which this plan is going to be challenging for active transportation, particularly in Portland.

1) The funding priority tilts heavily towards transit. The RTP already is much more aggressive about funding transit than it is about funding active transportation. The constrained plan only builds out a portion of the region’s active transportation plan, and Climate Smart Communities would give a $5B boost to transit while not adding to what’s planned for active transportation. The Commission that I serve on weighed in with a letter suggesting that fully funding the active transportation plan would yield more mobility per dollar and would have substantial health co-benefits.

2) It’s not very aggressive about reducing driving. The plan goal is a per-capita reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) from 19 miles daily to 17 miles by 2035. That’s just a smidge over a 10% reduction. In contrast, Portland’s 2009 Climate Action Plan (stay tuned for the 2014 update in a few months) shoots for a 30% reduction in per-capita VMT by 2030. Why is Metro’s VMT target important for Portland if we have a more aggressive plan? Because Metro is the keeper of the yardstick by which we measure regional travel. To take a current example, if we’re looking at whether we can take out an auto lane on Barbur Blvd, the planners have to look at Metro’s regional model to determine how much auto traffic is projected on the street. Portland’s goals are generic, they are not modeled street-by-street, so we have to use Metro’s numbers!

So please read the plan, and comment in any of these ways (via Metro). The comment deadline is October 30th.

  • Take a short survey online at makeagreatplace.org on transportation and land use policies and actions that can shape our communities.
  • To provide more in depth feedback, visit oregonmetro.gov/draftapproach to download and review the draft approach and implementation recommendations (Regional Framework Plan amendments, toolbox of possible actions and performance monitoring approach) and provide comments in one of the following ways:
  • Mail comments to Metro Planning, CSC Comment, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland, OR 97232
  • Email comments to climatescenarios@oregonmetro.gov
  • Phone in comments to 503-797-1750 or TDD 503-797-1804
  • Testify at a Metro Council hearing on Oct. 30, 2014, at 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland, OR 97232 in the Council chamber

Oh… and whatever policy changes do get enacted won’t show up until the 2018 RTP. The old yardsticks are going to rule for a few more years.

 

 

Think Global, Act Local

I happened to be headed to City Hall for an unrelated meeting today when I came across the rally to encourage the City to unload it’s financial holdings in Walmart.

Well, here’s a disinvestment campaign that’s a little more in line with this site’s point of view. The ‘350’ movement (trying to limit CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 ppm) has a petition to encourage the State of Oregon and other local governments to disinvest in the 200 companies that control most of our fossil fuel resources.

I’ve signed, will you?

Your Questions For Neil, “Round 5″, Part 4 – Potpourri

And now, the final segment of our video interview with TriMet’s Neil McFarlane. This episode, “Potpourri”, featuring a variety of your questions.

Topics include:

  • Bikes on MAX cars – are there ways to add capacity?
  • Bike parking and bikeshare at MAX stations
  • TriMet’s take on carbon emissions – what will it take to get to net zero emissions?
  • Hybrid buses, past present and future, and electric buses
  • Weight of buses, number of wheels, and damage to roads
  • The new e-fare system (announced officially just before we recorded the interview)
  • Equity in the fare payment system, especially for cash-only users

Thanks once again to the Portland Opera for tolerating the mayhem of our intrepid video crew in their conference room.

Segment Navigation:

Climate change refugees coming to Portland?

Are “climate change” refugees coming to Portland in the future? An editorial at the Portland Tribune thinks so.

The Portland Tribune has an editorial on the subject of “climate change refugees”, and how they might impact the local economy and population forecasts. The Trib article makes some bold predictions–painting a future in which there is a massive exodus from places such as Phoenix due to water shortages, to more water-rich areas like…here.

I don’t endorse the substance of the article (nor am I stating my opposition), but found it interesting–as the possibility of a massive demographic shift to the north is one which would have profound impacts on the region.

The ground rules for debate: Climate change denial is, as always, not permitted at Portland Transport. (Nor is complaining about the policy, which is not negotiable). This is a private blog; those who object to this may start their own (http:/www.blogger.com makes it easy to set one up, and there’s plenty of other free hosting providers besides Google/Blogger). However, since the subject is front and center for this thread, certain discussions that might normally be shunted aside are permitted in the comments here, including:

  • Whether the climate effects posited in the article, and/or the resulting political effects or demographic shifts, are reasonable.
  • Whether a massive influx of residents to Portland (or a massive migration away) are likely
  • The possibility of politically-powerful desert regions diverting water from the Pacific Northwest to meet their needs (the idea of building a huge pipeline to divert flows from the Columbia to California has been proposed before)
  • How Portland should (or should not) accommodate the potential for so-called “climate change refugees”

Etc.

Of course, maybe the answer is for everyone to move to Canada. :)