RTP Exercise – Solutions – Compact Development

We’ve discussed what’s working, we’ve discussed the challenges, now the final question for the exercise is how do we get there?

What are the solutions that will get us to our outcomes?

“Compact Development” scenario outcomes:

  1. A seven-year-old on a bike should be able to safely and comfortably travel from his/her home to an elementary school, a park and a grocery store. (Chris)
  2. When moving about from place to place, citizens have the opportunity to make eye contact and communicate with each other in normal speaking voices. (Clay)
  3. 90% of households and 100% of businesses with employees in Metro area are a 10 minute walk from frequent, reliable, useful public transportation. (djk)
  4. Most qualified graduates from local colleges and universities will be able to find sustainable employment in their field within 6 months of graduation, and are able to live within walking, biking, or a 15 minutes or less single-seat transit ride of their employment. (Garlynn, Chris)
  5. Increasingly efficient use of existing roadway capacity through expanded transportation options will allow the region to continue to shift public resources away from transportation and toward education in order to “grow” and attact talent essential to a 21st century economcy based on adding value and innovation as opposed to the movement of cheap commodities. (Lenny)
  6. Outside of peak commute times, freight flows freely past areas of SOV congestion through tools like queue-jump lanes, differential pricing or truck-only lanes. (Chris)
  7. Run-off from transportation facilities is eliminated (that is, fully absorbed) through “green street” techniques. (djk)
  8. Air pollution from transportation facilities is at or below the absorbtion capacity of vegetation in the Metro area. (djk)
  9. 90% of Oregon children regularly travel self-powered to and from school safely without parental assistance. (mykle)
  10. The quarter of the region’s residents who cannot drive have a substantially similar quality of transportation choices as those who can. (Evan)
  11. Traffic deaths are no longer the leading cause of death among ages 1-34 years old. (Evan)
  12. Roads and other infrastructure receive the regular maintenance that will prolong their life in the most cost-effective manner. (Ross)

The question for this phase: What are some solutions to achieving the outcomes?

13 responses to “RTP Exercise – Solutions – Compact Development”

  1. 90% of Oregon children regularly travel self-powered to and from school safely without parental assistance.

    -> I really like that one. Just from my own childhood memories of getting to school not on the bus, but riding my bicycle or just walking. It was just over a mile, but it was super easy to travel that distance.

    As for #10, that sounds like a severe forced imbalance. It scares me.

  2. A regional transportation system is built out that includes commuter/passenger rail, light rail, streetcar, bus, ferry and water taxis, which are all coordinated via timed transfer points so that they operate on a “pulse” system, such that for most journeys, riders remain in motion from their origin to their destination.

  3. Allowable development heights & densities are increased along major transportation corridors, as well as within existing neighborhoods as long as certain conditions are met to protect existing housing stock, to make 3-6 story buildings with 3-6 bedroom flats more feasible throughout the region (especially within the central City of Portland).

  4. Freeways eventually are all capped to remove their blight-creating effect on the community, such that their emissions are filtered (biologically?) before release into surrounding neighborhoods, street connectivity can be restored where previously the freeway represented a barrier, and their real estate air rights are available for development as residential, commercial, industrial, educational, park and open space/recreational facilities.

  5. Well, approxmiately 20% of Oregonians are under the age of 16, so once you factor them in with those with physical or mental impairments that prevent them from driving, you have easily knocked out 25% of the citizens in this state.

  6. So it seems to me that the solution set has to include reorganization of the way we finance things.

    For example, we finance transit operations with a payroll tax. On one level it makes sense – if we add more employees, we get more dollars for transit to move them around.

    But look at it from a mode-split point of view. If we get more people out of their cars onto transit – not one more dollar to run transit. We’re going to a hit a wall!

  7. Chris –

    Strictly speaking, if that passenger pays a fare, one more dollar is added to transit. Further, if that new passenger rides a route that isn’t already full, that passenger costs no additional money to serve.

    Most of the subsidy to buses goes to under-performing routes in outlying areas in an attempt to complete the network and to be there for new riders as they emerge.

    (I know you know this already, of course, I just wanted to make a point that the economics of transit are more complex than additional riders = additional cost.)

    – Bob R.

  8. A diversity of housing types designed specifically to accommodate and attract families with amenities that include multiple bedroom accommodations instead of just studios, one and two bedroom high density units; attached play yards and open spaces instead of sidewalk to sidewalk construction of the structure(s); and enough parking (a minimum of one parking space per residence) to accommodate all vehicles motor registered to residents so the parking of personal motor vehicles does not overflow onto the streets.

    Explanation: A diversity of housing ranges from single family homes to high density (none of which should receive property tax abatements). Attached play yards and open spaces means exactly what it says, exclusive to the housing structure, NOT meaning the park down the street or a nearby greenspace. Enough parking – one motor vehicle parking space for unit is a reality check that should be mandated so cars of residents are not left to be parked on the streets. With a near one to one ratio of registered vehicles to people in Oregon, if a resident does not require a parking space, it can be leased to another person or a family that has more than one motor vehicle. Current policies that do not require parking facilities only generate more cars being parked on the streets.

  9. No more (politically motivated) subsidies for housing and transportation choices.

    Explanation: All tax abatement programs are eliminated. All property owners help financially support schools and government services. Housing construction is based on market demand, not subsidized political desire. Urban renewal becomes unnecessary. The one percent of motorist paid transportation funds dedicated to bicycle infrastructure is repealed. Bicyclists become financially responsible for the services requested and are directly taxed to pay for bicycle infrastructure. Transit fares better reflect the costs of providing the service and constructing the systems. Motorists are taxed only for streets, roads, highways and bridges, but not to accommodate other modes of transport.

  10. “Motorists are taxed only for streets, roads, highways and bridges, but not to accommodate other modes of transport.”

    One can dream. :) I’d sure love to only pay for that, and the other services I use.

  11. Car-free transit streets!

    Let’s allocate every tenth (or so) street in our urban grid system as alternative transit streets, where car access is restricted to each block’s local residents. Give these transit streets improved right-of-way with stop signs and streetlights, just like major automobile arterial streets.

    Dedicate one side of the street to mass transit, like buses and streetcars. Giving them their own car-free lane will let them travel faster, safer and more calmly, especially during rush hours. Turn the other side of the street into a two-way bike boulevard, and invest a bit in beautifying and landscaping to make the existing sidewalks a more enviting route for pedestrians and wheelchair users.

    I think it’s obvious how such streets would support goals #1 and #9. It’s a way to significantly enhance the performance and appeal of existing alternative transit, supporting goals #3 and #5. And it’s also a similar technique to light rail for guiding development along corridors, leading to the kind of compact development that supports goals #3, #4 and #10. Also, converting existing streets to car-free transit can enhance liveability, and therefore improve property values. Aligning such a street along a commercial district or an existing public square will draw people together outside of their cars, supporting goal #2. In effect, it creates a new kind of public space while improving alternative transit efficiency.

  12. Adron says:

    90% of Oregon children regularly travel self-powered to and from school safely without parental assistance.

    -> I really like that one. Just from my own childhood memories of getting to school not on the bus, but riding my bicycle or just walking. It was just over a mile, but it was super easy to travel that distance.

    Me too. I walked about a mile, along car-occupied streets, but i suspect there was just a lot less traffic 30 years ago, at least in Edina, MN. Also, my neighborhood had a lot of those corner-to-corner diagonal sidewalk things that restrict through traffic and let pedestrians cross the street. Sort of a retroactive cul-de-sacing of the regular grid. I had to cross one major street but there were stoplights and crosswalks, and also crossing guards.

    There was also a lot less paranoia about random child-snatchers prowling the streets. I don’t know that the city was really any more safe then than now, but people thought it was and that made a big difference.