Relative Misery

A couple of years ago, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) released their annual commuting study, and ranked Portland worse than Seattle, to the disbelief and consternation of many folks here.

This led TTI to revise their methodology, and this year’s report, as reported in the Oregonian, flips that back around.

Indeed it goes on to point out that transit and land use planning (which has shortened our average commute distance) make our commutes ‘less miserable’ than other cities.

Let’s hear it for being ‘less miserable’…

34 responses to “Relative Misery”

  1. ridiculous conclusion[s], try driving through Seattle in the late afternoon on a Friday…on I-5…a commuter nightmare, every week…

  2. Trying to “rate” cities is like trying to compare apples and oranges.

    Each city has its own characteristics and therefore attempting to make assumptions based on some sort of subjective criteria is absurd.

    If every city in America were laid out the same, with the same densities and road configurations then maybe you could conduct a study on “misery”.

  3. “Trying to “rate” cities is like trying to compare apples and oranges.”

    I agree, but just because something is difficult to measure doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea to try…

    On one hand, there are questions like “Do our policies work?” And without studies like this, (even with all of it’s problems,) we don’t really know if we are making a better city or a worse one as time goes by… If I thought that we were making a worse one, I’d be standing around asking people to widen freeways too, but when people like the TTI acknowledge that Portland’s polices are actually working, that says a lot.

    On the other hand, I regularly meet people that read studies like this, (okay, not this one in particular, but others,) come visit and realize that Portland does indeed have it’s act together and move here. I never met anyone like that in say, Detroit, in fact most people I knew there hated it, and wanted to leave…

  4. Portland is still liveable, and it doesn’t require a study or misery index to see that.

    Enjoy it while it lasts cause it won’t be liveable much longer.

  5. Enjoy it while it lasts cause it won’t be liveable much longer.

    Especially if they keep cramming people into every nook and crannie, pandering to the illegal immigrants, giving bums free rides and homes and chasing all the businesses out of town. Pretty soon Portland will be a bedroom community and everyone will have to commute to Vancouver, Hillsboro and Salem from their 500 square foot luxurious “livable” living spaces.

  6. 500 square foot luxurious “livable” living spaces
    Allright… I agree with you on that one. Especially since a lot of these are those $500,000+ condos. My last apartment was about that size, but about $500/mo.

    Each city has its own characteristics…. If every city in America were laid out the same… then maybe you could conduct a study on “misery”.
    That’s what I’m concerned about. We’re losing local street names like Portland Blvd., Interstate Ave. (probably), and we’ve already lost Front Ave. I’m not going to whine about the old 7-up sign or the White Stag sign (technically old pieces of advertising that some people got attached to), or the fact Fred Meyer, for example, has been owned by back-East interests for years, and there are almost no local brands/stores left. We’re losing our history and replacing it with the same things everywhere else has, and whenever someone questions the fact a new drug store here looks just the same as a new one being build back East, they’re looked at as “anti-business.” Even all the new construction looks the same.

  7. “Especially if they keep cramming people into every nook and crannie,”
    “That’s what I’m concerned about. We’re losing local street names like Portland Blvd., Interstate Ave. (probably), and we’ve already lost Front Ave.”

    I do believe that the two comments above give an accurate description of what is happening to our “livable” city, and it’s a crying shame.

  8. we’ve already lost Front Ave

    Hey you forgot to mention Union Avenue! Why do they need to rename a street in every city MLK avenue? Not only is Portland getting all the common streetnames as every other bigtown USA but it also has an abundance of the same chain establishments. I really noticed this after moving back down to the Salem area and realized the absence of Starbucks on every block, and the vagrants at every street corner with their cardboard signs. The more foreigners that pour into the Portland area the more Portland is going to degenerate into the same boring, violent and dirty status as any other big city across the world. Al was right, it is a crying shame.

  9. Its interesting that O’Toole was the editor of an OSPIRG report in the 1970’s titled “How fast should Oregon Grow?”. It featured a cover with an outline of Oregon completely surrounded by a press of faces. In the center of the state was a circle of covered wagons with people shooting out at the press of faces.

    Its interesting how times and politics change, but basic personalities don’t.

  10. Part of the critique notes that O’Toole and his paper’s criticism of Portland planning aren’t actually against government intervention – only against government intervention that curbs sprawl. (pg. 11)

  11. Greg wrote: I’ll take the libertarian view over government knows best idiocy any day!

    Thank you, Greg, for presenting a textbook straw man argument. I know a lot of pro-planning, pro-transit liberals (as well as a number of libertarian-leaning conservatives), and in all my life I’ve never heard a single human being argue that “government knows best”.

    When you’re ready to debate controversies which actually exist, please let us know.

    – Bob R.

  12. I wasn’t presenting a straw man argument. O’Toole argues against government central control and Mike Lewyn refutes it in his article with his pro-government bias point of view. O’Toole is libertarian and the other guy is pro-central control. I wish these out of state special interest groups would get out of our debate and focus on their own problems. That includes Sierra Club and 1000 clowns, too.

  13. Apparently the governor thinks so since he’s giving his minions 11-24% raises!

    I’m guessing that by “minions”, you mean agency managers. More name-calling on your part.

    I wonder how many of these thugs…

    Thugs? What, did some director of a state agency come to your home once and physically assault you? Why the needless (and inaccurate) pejoratives?

    …are stealing the money from private property owners

    I don’t know… police crime statistics are a matter of public record. Perhaps you can find a police report of a state agency manager breaking into someone’s home and stealing money. Until then, you have no evidence for such a bizarre assertion.

    while they get their fat paychecks.

    Please present evidence that state agency managers’ compensation in Oregon, given the duties, number of managed employees, and size of agency budgets, are “fat” compared to other similar agencies in other states, or equivalent private sector management positions.

    Or were you referring to the size of the paper upon which the checks are printed?

    Really, Greg… I’m speaking to you here in my capacity as a site moderator: Please tone it down and try to stick with the topic. This isn’t your first warning. Thank you.

    – Bob R.

  14. “Your [sic] the site moderator! […] So no wonder your [sic] so organized!LOL!!”

    The rules prohibit personal attacks, the name the the site is, not and as such, I’m not going to comment on your inability to use the English language…

  15. I’m one of the people authorized to moderate this site, however this site is primarily Chris’s blog. I try to help out where I can.

  16. Speaking of “the rules,” there really should be a conspicuous “rules of discussion” link on the main page. I had to do a search to find the last “rules” post.

  17. djk –

    Although it’s not completely conspicuous, at the bottom of every page is a link called “The Rules“. Perhaps a copy of that link should appear above the Comments text box, just like the “License” link currently does.

    – Bob R.

  18. Greg,

    While I understand where a lot of your comments are coming from, I often wonder why you even post on this blog since you have disassociated yourself from Portland anyway. This is about Portland issues. The tome of your commentary is very obvious, and I think it detracts from what you have to say.

    There was a guy named Paul Edgar who posted for awhile, usually from a more conservative viewpoint. He was very knowledgeable having served on various transportation committees. Perhaps you should consider sending your comments to ODOT, to Oregon’s congressional delegation or to the US Secretary of Transportation. From what I understand this forum is to have a polite tone, and I get tired of reading the frequently heated discussions going on.

    You can take my comments for what they are worth. Just venting…

  19. since you have disassociated yourself from Portland anyway

    … because there isn’t an or or…. AND … Portland being the powerhouse that runs the state I still take interest what goes on (t)here. And technically I still do live in the Portland MSA.

    I have corresponded with ODOT regarding the (now dead, Thank God) Newberg bypass. I told them I hope they widen the road through there and bulldoze down that blight they call Dundee.

  20. Greg wrote: I hope they widen the road through there and bulldoze down that blight they call Dundee.

    Google map of Dundee, OR, the “blight” that Greg is so willing to bulldoze.

    – Bob R.

  21. Bob,

    That’s not a good perpective. The only nice part of town is up on the hill. Ask others…. There are ramshackle and abandoned houses, a tavern and a particularly hideous purple house that always has political billboards lambasting various topics. Apparently the owner is still disgruntled over the City not letting him put in an espresso cart or something so he uses it as his venting post.

  22. Greg – just hours ago you were railing against the actions of Big Government, and that property owners should be able to do anything they want with their land, but now you have written and advocated to the State of Oregon that it should bulldoze properties you don’t like in Dundee, apparently regardless of the wishes of the local residents.

  23. I think they should bulldoze the governor! Talk about arrogance!

    On a serious note,and speaking of misery, I made a video of my max trip this afternoon at 4:45pm. I get on at 158th and Merlo and head west. Way out of the city of Portland and basically well into the suburbs. You wouldn’t expect a problem boarding the max out here would you?


    This sight is far too common on the MAX and what worries me is that while they continue to expand, THEY BASICALLY CAN’T HANDLE WHAT THEIR DOING NOW!

    Its a serious situation as far as i am concerned.

  24. Perhaps they should maintain a segregated MAX line for those who are easily offended, misanthropic or confused libertarians? Of course, they would have to build it themselves, with their own (apparently limitless if left unregulated) capital and maintain, operate and secure it on their own, as well.


  25. apparently regardless of the wishes of the local residents.

    When did the wishes of local residents ever matter? The wishes of local residents out where I now live is to divide their property and build houses but NOOOO…. the Portlanders don’t want that!

  26. “Ross Williams Says:
    Yes. If it continues, no one will ride MAX any more. :)”

    Well here we really have the beauty of the whole situation, cause if you work in downtown

    No place to park, and a complete nightmare of construction zones.

    I needed to get over to SE Taylor from my home on NW 23rd, it took me ¾ hour to drive about 6 miles!

    There was a great quote made by Red Skelton once when he visited Portland.

    He was asked how he liked Portland, his response:
    “It would be a great city, if they ever get done building it”


  27. al –

    If we ever stop building Portland, it will be because the economy has tanked, the tax base has collapsed and houses are being sold at fire-sale prices as people move out in droves.

    Successful cities are always “under construction.”

    if you work in downtown

    I work downtown. Sure, a lot of the time I CHOOSE to ride MAX. Sometimes I CHOOSE to take a bus (single-seat rides on the 19, 20, or 15, depending on what errands I run before or after work — they all stop within walking distance of my house). Today, I CHOSE to ride my bicycle in. And when I feel ambitious, I’ve been known to CHOOSE to walk. There are four parking structures within two blocks of my office, so If I wanted to drive in, I have that option as well — and numerous driving routes to choose from.

    Seems like a pretty broad range of choices to me.

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