Archive | August, 2006

Love Affair with Cars in need of Couples Therapy?

This comes from a regular reader:

The Pew Research Center has released a report that finds that fewer Americans now enjoy driving than did in 1991. 69 percent now enjoy driving, down from 79 percent in 1991. You can read the executive summary or the entire report at Pew’s website:

A couple of the more interesting findings:

  • 28% of Americans feel that driving is a “chore”, opposed to 69% who “like to drive”
  • 31% of Americans think their car has a personality (!)
  • Congestion ranks as the most-mentioned reason that people don’t like to drive

What this study didn’t get into was any discussion of people’s propensity to use alternatives, whether or not they actually existed in their community. Basically, we have here a definition of the problem as certain people see it, with no discussion of solutions. Still, it’s useful to know that the conventional wisdom that people love to drive is waning somewhat.

Henry’s Lament

Last week’s meeting of the Burnside Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) was interesting from a number of points of view.

First, the couplet continues to score best on virtually all the criteria. The ‘new’ news at this meeting was that it wins on travel time and on the urban design criteria.

Last week’s meeting of the Burnside Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) was interesting from a number of points of view.

First, the couplet continues to score best on virtually all the criteria. The ‘new’ news at this meeting was that it wins on travel time and on the urban design criteria.

Second, the possibility of reducing to three lanes west of I-405 is very real. My hope is that Sam will recommend the couplet option east of I-405 and give the neighborhoods an opportunity to flesh out the 3 lane design and see what they think about the trade-offs (reduced to it’s simplest level: a much more humane street on Burnside versus accepting a little bit more traffic on neighborhood collector streets).

But perhaps the most intriguing element was the position of the Henry condo association. You’ll recall that the folks at the Henry (and their developer, Gerding/Edlen), with some support from the Bureau of Planning, were strongly against the couplet, on the basis that it would ruin the the unique pedestrian environment on Couch through the Brewery Blocks.

The Henry, on the strength of a traffic analysis commissioned by Gerding/Edlen, is supporting the “truncated couplet” approach. This is much like the original couplet, except that it would return the westbound traffic to Burnside at 8th, rather than at 15th. This has several impacts:

  • May require shaving the corner off the building at 8th and Couch
  • Requires that at least two elm trees be removed from the North Park Blocks
  • Pretty much drives a stake through the heart of attempts to unify the North and South Park Blocks through the “Park Avenue Vision”

Urban Designer Lloyd Lindley called it a “non-starter from an urban design point of view.”

The Henry’s reaction? “We’re sorry about the elm trees.”

But more to the point, the design advocated by Gerding/Edlen’s traffic engineer still calls for making Couch one-way westbound (as does the couplet design) and still calls for signalizing the intersections at Couch and 10th and 11th. Additionally, compared to the current several hundred cars per hour, the truncated couplet will deliver 800 cars per hour through the brewery blocks during the evening peak (the full couplet will deliver 1200).

In essence the Henry folks are trying to convince us to sacrifice 7 blocks of Burnside and the unification of the Park Blocks to avoid 400 cars going past their building. Hmmm…

By the way, the Bureau of Planning was very quiet at the meeting. Their representative delivered a very neutral assessment of the options. I think the Henry has lost one ally.

It’s also worth noting that all the major land holders other then Gerding have recommended the couplet to Commissioner Adams.

Handicapping this bet, I’d say put your money on the couplet, but still expect the well-connected Henry folks to fight the battle again at the funding stage.

This morning’s Trib has a related article.

Care to Work for the BTA?

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator
Description$11-13.50/hr./DOE (Full-time 40hr per week position)

The Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Program Coordinator will work with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) to coordinate walking and biking encouragement and education programs in 8 Portland Public Schools. The coordinator will work with principals, school staff, parents, and community members to provide encouragement, education, engineering, and enforcement programs in each school. The programs teach and inspire school age youth to be safe and predictable bicyclists and pedestrians, and promote safe transportation to and from school. The coordinator will report to the Safe Routes to School Program Director.

Job Duties
– Work with local School Teams and school staff to coordinate activities at their schools
– Coordinate education programs with SR2S Program Director and Community Service Providers.
– Coordinate encouragement activities in Portland schools and give technical assistance to Oregon schools.
– Represent BTA/WPC at community and school team meetings and events
– Develop curriculum for Pedestrian Safety Program
– Train and coordinate staff and volunteers
– Maintain the Walk and Bike to School Website
– Collaborate on the development of promotional materials
– Help with statewide Walk and Bike to School Activities

A highly qualified SR2S Program Coordinator will:
– Be an experienced to an avid cyclist.
– Have experience and enjoy working with preadolescent youths.
– Have experience with school-based education and/or recreation programs.
– Be familiar and interested in working with the public school community.
– Experience with Macintosh computers, able to learn and work with project software and website
– Be active, enthusiastic and responsible, able to work independently, able to effectively run a program from start to finish, have excellent public speaking skills and ability to lead group meetings.

Time Requirements

Accepting applications until Tuesday August 8th. The new coordinator will be trained during August, and will work with schools from September-June. Position is for at least one year, continued employment depends upon future funding and job performance.

The SR2S Program Coordinator position is full-time, 40 hours per week. The Program Coordinator will be most active during late summer, early fall and late spring.

How to Apply
For an application contact Katherine Wilson: