Archive | June, 2005

Wanted: 3000 Donuts

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is searching for 3000 donuts. At a recent staff meeting, our Program Director Brita Johnson asked if we knew where to find 3000 donuts. That’s right, 250 dozen.

Well, Voodoo Donuts has their Tex-Ass Sized donuts, but asking them to make 3000 cool donuts isn’t a likely winner. Perhaps Franz Bakery, whose lovely smell of baking permeates blocks around their factory at Northeast 11th and Everett, is the place to go. I can also imagine a Krispy Kreme poster of a bicycle whose wheels are made out of donuts. But if you’ve got ideas, let us know.

Why do we need so many donuts? Well, it’s a summer of fun for bicycling, and one of the events we help with, and benefit from, is the Midsummer Night Ride, July 9th. It’s a great ride through the city in the middle of the night with thousands of other cyclists. For those of you who may not have ridden in the middle of a summer night much, it’s an amazing experience, especially with a few hundred friends. Seriously consider going.

Or if you want to help with any of our events this summer, we’d love your help.

Otherwise, find us some donuts, will you?

Another Metro Councilor Lays Out a Vision

What do global warming, the end of “cheap oil” and the Legislature’s refusal to raise gas taxes the 12th session in a row have in common? Together they are creating the perfect storm for transportation as we know it.

Storms sink most boats but they also give rise to great surfing for those who anticipate and are prepared to ride out the waves instead of fighting them. Every community in the US is facing the same storm in one form or another. No place has enough money to build its way out of congestion, and Portland is no exception (compare congestion numbers at the Texas Transportation Institute’s website).

No place except maybe Texas has oil to meet its local needs (US production peaked in 1970’s and the world production peak is fast approaching) and burning all this fuel to accomplish errands we could do on foot, by bike or on transit is having major impacts on the survivability of our species.

How do we keep commerce flowing if the roads are clogged with commuters? When gas goes to $5 a gallon what will people living in north Clark County (where they can still buy a 1 acre lot in sprawlurbia) and commuting to Hillsboro do? Can bikes really save the world? If everyone wants to live in the city, where will they live? And just as fundamental to our sustainability, where will people of lesser means live if the well-to-do continue to bid them out of their conveniently located homes?

These are themes that I will be exploring in future contributions to this blog. Stay tuned!

One Metro Councilor Challenges the Status Quo

For the last 30 to 50 years, transportation planning in the United States has been:

1. Carried out largely in isolation from regional, city or neighborhood land use planning, even though we know transportation investments shape property values and land uses and land use regulations play a major role in travel patterns.

2. Based on unexamined assumptions about what are the right questions to address. (For example, is the right question always “How do we reduce congestion on this corridor?”)

3. Shaped by an environmental impact statement analysis that often uses straw-men alternatives (especially the “no build” alternative) and that are organized around analyzing a single “corridor” instead of more sophisticated combinations of transportation investments, land use strategies and demand management.

4. Powerfully shaped in Oregon (and elsewhere) by state and federal mandates limiting the use of funds for only certain kinds of transportation investments.

5. At its worst, one of the last refuges of back-room deals and log rolling by a narrow group of interests, conducted out of the public eye.

Our state and region have made progress in changing some of these dynamics, especially #5. But the time is right to take new steps in this region to reform how we make these decisions that use so many tax dollars and have such a profound effect on our region and neighborhoods.

I would welcome other peoples’ ideas about what reforms are needed and how we can gain acceptance for change.

Welcome to Portland Transport

Welcome to “a conversation about mobility” in our region.

The goal behind Portland Transport is to let the thought leaders on transportation issues in the region converse with each other, and with the general public.

We have assembled a diverse group of contributors, and will be adding more as the site grows. They include elected officials, agency staffers and transportation advocates. If you’d like to contribute, let us know. This is definitely a group effort.

We operate under a simple set of rules, and welcome your thoughts on how we can improve the site.

Enjoy!

Chris Smith
chris@chrissmith.us