Preferred Mode = Culture

There’s a great post over at PriceTags on what it took to make automobiles acceptable (then dominant of course) on our streets.

What will it take to make our culture accept bikes, walking and transit in the same way? What can we proactively do to start this shift in thinking?

No comments

0 Responses to Preferred Mode = Culture

  1. Jason Barbour
    July 29, 2008 at 11:54 pm Link

    1. Stop listening to people who try to tell you that there’s no other way to live than by driving everywhere.
    2. Stop smiting those who use modes of transportation different than the ones you use.
    3. Stop allowing employers to discriminate against those who use alternate modes of transportation. (If the job doesn’t require driving, then they shouldn’t be able to require the employee to have a drivers’ license and/or requirements to drive to/from work every day.)
    4. Use $4+/gallon gas to remind people that there are other options.

  2. AL M
    July 30, 2008 at 1:04 am Link

    1-oil embargo, this time for real;

    2-gas $10/gallon;

    3-global warming catastrophe, all anti global warming fanatics become as the people who refused to believe the world was round but stubbornly held on to the notion of the world being flat.

  3. M. Lasley
    July 30, 2008 at 1:34 am Link

    -Although we have a lot of laws already, use the law to give more powerful rights to alternate modes of transportation (i.e., bikes & walking)
    -Boost enforcement of said laws
    -Continue grass roots motivations like ‘Safe Routes to School’ and public activities like ‘Smart Transportation Options’
    -Talk with your friends, family, and neighbors about how you get around
    -Lead by example

  4. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 4:12 am Link

    What will it take to get people out of cars?
    JK: There is a well known, proven answer:

    Poverty.

    Why? Because cars are convenient, save time, are door to door, are freedom enabling and are cheaper than the real cost of transit. The latest generation also use less energy and pollute less than transit. (Don’t believe me? – look at the numbers, instead of mindlessly accepting the transit industry propaganda.)

    All over the world, people abandon transit for personal transport as soon as they can. First bikes (the lowest rung on the ladder, then motor bikes, then a cheap car.)

    PS: rail kills 4000 people per year in Mumbain India. See: youtube.com/watch?v=0ArN_KqFQa4

    Thanks
    JK

  5. Ron
    July 30, 2008 at 4:19 am Link

    Hey JK, cars kill over 30,000 a year right here in the good old USA.

  6. Matthew
    July 30, 2008 at 5:15 am Link

    Obesity.

    The latest studies say that you need an hour of exercise a day to maintain a healthy weight. At some point we might adopt national health care system of one sort or another, at which point getting people in shape won’t just be a “personal issue” but a societal issue: if people are healthier, we’ll all pay less in taxes. (This idea already exists at my office: They heavily encourage us to exercise right now because it keeps health care premium down and decreases sick leave usage, both of which has an impact on the bottom line.)

    So, when you walk or bicycle you both travel and stay in shape at the same time, but if you drive you have to spend that hour getting exercise separately from your travel time. And when you consider that cars don’t really go that fast, (20 mph end to end is a typical driving speed for an in town trip,) for most people with time constricted days, there just isn’t enough time to travel and exercise separately, so (with exceptions for certain delivery truck drivers,) most people will find that they can do much of their traveling by walking and/or bicycling and get their hour of exercise a day at the same time.

    P.S. The CDC thinks that lack of physical activity leads to 400,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

  7. fpteditors
    July 30, 2008 at 6:25 am Link

    Stop subsidizing autosprawl.

  8. MachineShedFred
    July 30, 2008 at 7:56 am Link

    So far, almost every commenter has replied with restrictions or some way of making the motorist public miserable.

    If you want to effect change that people actually want, you need to make whatever it is you’re trying to sell (and that’s what it is, btw – selling) BETTER than what they have already.

    According to Trimet’s own TripCheck thingy, it takes me 49 minutes, or 54 minutes to get to OMSI from my house (in inner southeast btw), depending on which option I take. According to that new fangled Google walking direction thing, it takes just over an hour.

    Also according to Google Maps, it takes 10 minutes to drive.

    An ~84% reduction in efficiency of time isn’t going to get many people out of their cars. Now imagine what happens if I want to visit my brother in West Salem. One hour to drive. All day to use public transit with who-knows-how-many transfers, and it will likely end up costing more than driving in the end.

    This is the problem that needs to be solved in order to sell alternative transportation to the masses.

  9. nuovorecord
    July 30, 2008 at 8:44 am Link

    I’d say Fred’s comment gets to the heart of the matter. People are generally rational beings and will use the easiest, most convenient mode available. I don’t think making auto travel miserable is the answer. Many people are already realizing for themselves that it often can be. Nor do I think that the solution has to be an “all or nothing” battle of car vs. transit. Every trip is different and one mode isn’t best for all. We’ve spent trillions on making auto travel convenient, with mixed results. I think it’s well past time for a similar public investment in transit, cycling and walking.

  10. Dolan Halbrook
    July 30, 2008 at 9:03 am Link

    MachineShedFred,

    How long would it take for you to ride a bike for the same trip?

    I’d be willing to guess not a whole lot longer than driving, and perhaps quicker in traffic.

  11. al m
    July 30, 2008 at 9:05 am Link

    The above article speaks on the European vs American
    experience.

    No problem with bike/car culture in Europe!

    There is *NO* bike/car culture in Europe.

    Just a bunch people trying to get from point A to point B.

    Why do you suppose that would be such a huge difference between American and European attitudes?

  12. Adron
    July 30, 2008 at 9:06 am Link

    Best idea so far.

    -Lead by example

    …and Ron

    Hey JK, cars kill over 30,000 a year right here in the good old USA.

    It’s more like 50k.

  13. EngineerScotty
    July 30, 2008 at 10:05 am Link

    One of the suspicions that the pro-car-hate-transit folks ’round here seem to have, is that transit advocates SEEK to make their lives miserable to force ’em out of their cars (or at least make driving a less rational choice).

    And perhaps, some transit advocates are of that sort–although not entirely without justification. One reason that cars are often economically rational–is that users of cars are able to externalize some of the costs of their operation; such as pollution and such. (And, there is a lot of existing infrastructure).

    But–and back to the main point–$4 gas has had a notable affect on people’s behavior. Transit use has increased; though the transit infrastructure is highly underdeveloped in this country, even in a transit-friendly place like Portland. (Is this an argument for more development, or less, or is this beside the point?) However, other point-to-point modes, such as bicycles, have gone up. And many discretionary trips, such as vacationing, are no longer being made or are being shortened.

    People will select whatever mode of transit is most conveninent. In NYC, Boston, or DC, and a few other large, dense US cities that have well-developed subway systems, that frequently is transit. In places like Phoenix or Atlanta, large sparse cities with well-developed freeway networks, the auto is presently more convenient.

    Poverty is certainly a factor–you can’t drive a car unless you can afford one. But it’s not the only factor.

  14. Doug
    July 30, 2008 at 10:29 am Link

    Dolan,

    I’m not the person you asked, but I also have a 15 minute drive to work so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

    It takes me about 25 minutes to ride door-to-door from home to work each way. The car trip is only a 15 minute ride in the morning, but that doesn’t include the amount of time it takes me to find a parking spot on the ramp across the street from my offie. On the return trip it’s more like 25 minutes due to traffic getting out of downtown and there’s also the occasional bad traffic day on 99E. All told, after taking all of the above factors into consideration, my commute time by bike and by car is approximately equal.

    MachineShedFred:

    A friend of mine works near OMSI and lives in SE (near 60th), he bikes to work and has said that the commute is roughly equal… maybe no more than 5 minutes more than his drive each way. While the bike trip might be slightly longer, the cost for driving those trips (even if they’re short trips) adds up over time, If you can swing it, you might try making the trip by bike to see how it treats you.

  15. M. Lasley
    July 30, 2008 at 11:13 am Link

    The questions Chris asked us to answer were, “What will it take to make our culture accept bikes, walking and transit in the same way? What can we proactively do to start this shift in thinking?” Clearly, this question comes from an assumption that we’d want to use the aforementioned alternate forms of transportation. Most importantly, the question assumes that those here would want to use those modes of transportation.

    That said, I see the question as meaning how do we convince others that these alternate forms are the best way to go. We know that the Average American (AA) is busy and looking for the simplest way to get from point A to B in order to take care of the things AA cares about, sometimes at the risk of not taking care of AA. So, how do we insight a proactive paradigm shift to overcome the ease of cars, get people to get more exercise, and realize the true cost of transportation? Restating the road blocks to moving towards this paradigm shift doesn’t do much to actively engage in the conversation at hand. How, instead, do we get past those road blocks?

    If a healthy culture does things in moderation, then we cannot expect one to get rid of the car when we should simply use it in moderation. So, I would reinterpret the question again to “how can we use bikes, trains, walking, and other forms of transportation in balance with cars so that we may raise our overall quality of life?”

    Laws like enforcing pedestrian rights makes people more aware that they have to wait for a person to cross the road. Cross any road in Portland and compare that to Detroit, Michigan and then let’s talk about how the law doesn’t work. Sure other places in the country have people who walk and bike, but what differences occur when the law specifically states that a bike can take a whole lane? Bikers have more confidence to do so, which raises awareness of the alternate mode of transportation (even if the road ridden on isn’t the safest).

    So, of the suggestions I previously gave, the two I would concentrate on are laws, creation and enforcement, and leading by example. If we ride our bikes to work and walk, people will ask (I’ve done this before) and it at least plants a seed of alternatives they hadn’t considered.

  16. Douglas K.
    July 30, 2008 at 12:17 pm Link

    jk asks:

    What will it take to get people out of cars?
    and then goes on to his non-sequitur thing about poverty, even though nobody here posed the question that he answered.

    Chris’s actual question was about getting people to accept bicycling and transit as reasonable alternatives. He doesn’t suggest that we encourage anyone to give up their cars. It’s really a question of getting people to intelligently select which mode works best for them: bicycles for short trips or short commutes or as a way of getting your exercise going to and from work instead of having to block out an hour for the gym afterwards. Mass transit for daily trips to and from major employment areas, or to visit major sporting events or concerts where parking will be a problem.

    For bicycling:

    (a) Make recreational bicycling more attractive by building more off-street bike paths.

    (b) Make neighborhood bike commuting more attractive with more bicycle boulevards and safer crossings to encourage neighborhood trips — ride to the park or the library.

    (c) Continue to host major, high-profile family-friendly community biking events like the Bridge Pedal or the Sunday Parkways just to get people onto their bicycles in the first place.

    (d) Generally, keep improving infrastructure for bicycles.

    As people get used to traveling around more on bicycles, they’ll start seeing trips where choosing a bicycle saves money, doesn’t cost significantly more time, and is a pleasant ride.

    This applies mostly in cities. If you’re out in the ‘burbs, particularly those built under fanatical single-use zoning, you probably won’t choose “bicycle” because there will be nowhere to go.

  17. Ruh
    July 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm Link

    What will it take? A change in the weather would work. It is difficult to ride a bike or walk long distances to work while wearing a suit or dress when it is raining or 90 degree heat. The main drawback for most people is the time/efficiency of the alternatives suggested. Many people do not work close enough to their work,shopping and play to make walking, biking or transit practical (or possible). I agree that walking, biking and transit are great alternatives for the small percentage of the population whose lifestyle fits that scenario.

  18. MachineShedFred
    July 30, 2008 at 1:12 pm Link

    For what it’s worth, I was using OMSI as an example of something the general public might want to get to, that isn’t that far away, and should have routine Trimet service.

    It just happens that it seems there is some absurd notion down at Trimet that one should cross the river in order to get from SE Portland to SE Portland.

    I work with a guy at my office off of Powell Blvd. that lives in Sellwood. He drives every day because in order to go the three miles, he has to transfer three busses and it takes half an hour. Driving takes 5 minutes, and allows him to pick up his kids from daycare after work.

    I ride my bike to work. I’m not anti-pedal power unless I see some jackass violating the law. I rather enjoy getting on my mountain bike and enjoying some of the great trails in the area. My previous point is that if you want people to use transit, you need to first have a transit system that works for them.

  19. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link

    Hey JK, cars kill over 30,000 a year right here in the good old USA.
    JK: And cars are a lot safer than light rail which kills at 2 1/2 times the rate of cars. The only reason light does not kill 90,000 per year is that so few people use it. see: portlandfacts.com/Transit/MAXSafetyChart.html

    Of course bicycling has a death rate about 10 times that of cars in bike friendly Europe.

    Thanks
    JK

  20. Bob R.
    July 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link

    Of course bicycling has a death rate about 10 times that of cars in bike friendly Europe.

    Source?

  21. Bob R.
    July 30, 2008 at 1:38 pm Link

    Oh, and still waiting for you to post a source which backs up your claim that foot size correlates to mathematical skill. ;-)

  22. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 1:49 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: Oh, and still waiting for you to post a source which backs up your claim that foot size correlates to mathematical skill. ;-)
    JK: Bob, don’t you realize that it is self evident, once you mention grade school kids?

    First graders have small feet (to match the rest of them) and have developed few skills. By the eighth grade, kids are noticeably larger, including their feet (hope you have noticed this) and generally have better skills at everything, including math. Of course there are exceptions. (I suspect that many planners have less math skills than first graders when you look at the numbers behind their plans.)

    Thanks
    JK

  23. AL M
    July 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm Link

    “First graders have small feet (to match the rest of them) and have developed few skills. By the eighth grade, kids are noticeably larger, including their feet (hope you have noticed this) and generally have better skills at everything, including math.”

    LOL!!!!!!!LOL!!!!!!!

    I love it!!!

    Hey Jim, Can I get an on camera interview with you?

    Al M

  24. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: Of course bicycling has a death rate about 10 times that of cars in bike friendly Europe.

    Source?
    JK: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/_private/Slide06.gif

    See the note at the bottom: car fatalities have been multiplied by ten to get them close to the bicycle death rate. Notice that this chart is rate, not fatalities so it automatically adjusts for the difference in miles traveled. I’ll leave it up to you to discover if it is vehicle-miles of passenger-miles. (Yes, I can read Kms)

    Thanks
    JK

  25. AL M
    July 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm Link

    WHAT IS THAT GRAPH?

    LOL!!

    Can I have that interview for my collection?

    Don’t worry about publicity, very few people actually watch anything that I publish!

    Al M

  26. AL M
    July 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm Link

    Is that no Jim?

    How about if I pay you actual money?

    $20 sound fair?

    How come there are no video’s of you anywhere on the internet?

    Al M

  27. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 2:16 pm Link

    AL M Says:
    LOL!!!!!!!LOL!!!!!!!

    I love it!!!
    JK: The whole thing is semi-tongue in cheek. I got it from the Dr. Dean O’Dell show.

    But it does make a nice point about the dangers of jumping to conclusions from correlations.

    You know, like the CO2-temperature chart that Al Gore put in his movie – great correlation – but when they were able to look closer at the data, they discovered that the temperature moved first, then the CO2 followed, negating any claim of cause & effect. (Latest claims are that there really is no correlation because of CO2 diffusion throughout time.)

    Thanks
    JK

  28. AL M
    July 30, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link

    Jim K-

    Do you belong per chance to the flat earth society?

    Al M

  29. Terry Parker
    July 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm Link

    Jason Barbour said: “Stop smiting those who use modes of transportation different than the ones you use.”

    That includes bicyclists, transit riders and pedestrians smiting motorists (who are subsidizing the bike and transit rides).

    Jason also said: “Stop allowing employers to discriminate against those who use alternate modes of transportation. (If the job doesn’t require driving, then they shouldn’t be able to require the employee to have a drivers’ license and/or requirements to drive to/from work every day.)”

    And stop allowing employers to discriminate against those who also drive by offering some benefits only to those who don’t. Moreover stop allowing government to discriminate against those who drive by using the term “get people out of their cars” and expecting motorists to be cash cows for other alternatives. Bicyclists must start directly paying for bicycle infrastructure with a bicycle tax, license and registration fee; and transit riders must pay a greater share of providing the service just like motorist pay various taxes for the road infrastructure they use.

    M. Lasley said: “Although we have a lot of laws already, use the law to give more powerful rights to alternate modes of transportation (i.e., bikes & walking)

    This would be blatant discrimination!

    M. Lasley also said: “Boost enforcement of said laws”

    Especially for bicyclists that include more bike stings with fines instead of a slap on the wrist warning. The recent reports, video and observations by the media have proven the number of bicyclists that ignore traffic laws are in the 80 percent range. Compared to the percentage of motorists that have traffic infractions, the percentage is greater than four to one. (motorists being the latter one). Bicyclists are their own worst enemy.

    fpteditors said: “Stop subsidizing autosprawl”

    Stop subsidizing bicycle infrastructure and transit alternatives. It is the motorists that subsidize these modes. About 20 percent of the Federal Highway Trust Fund is poached to pay for alternative forms of transport. Only motorist through the Federal tax on motor fuels contribute to this fund, not bicyclists and transit passengers. With people driving less due to the cost of fuel, the fund is going in the red. Bicyclists and transit riders must start paying their own way. Furthermore, it is population growth that creates sprawl.

  30. Grant
    July 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm Link

    Jim,

    Seriously bro, do you even look at the sources you cite? The graph you just linked to has a line depicting the death rates for cyclists. The first data point (1990) is about 49. The last (1999) is about 41. And you call that an increase.

    Awkward question #3: How small are your feet, exactly?

  31. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 2:28 pm Link

    Grant Says: Seriously bro, do you even look at the sources you cite? The graph you just linked to has a line depicting the death rates for cyclists. The first data point (1990) is about 49. The last (1999) is about 41. And you call that an increase.
    JK: Yeah, do you bother to read my posts? I said NOTHING about changes over time, only that bike death rate is about 10x that of cars in Europe. That is shown by the bike line being in the same area (actually above) the car death rate x10.

    Thanks
    JK

  32. Grant
    July 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm Link

    “do you bother to read my posts? I said NOTHING about changes over time”

    You’re right Jim, you didn’t say that. You just linked to something that said it in 72 point font.

  33. EngineerScotty
    July 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm Link

    How many of those bike deaths (whether in Europe, or in the US) are due to collisions with cars?

    I seem to remember a thread where the anti-transit crowd was making claims (repeated above) that transit is more deadly than automobiles; computed by dividing passenger-miles by deaths of anyone involved in a transit-related accident. Of course, it was protested that the transit rider was quite safe; virtually all of those deaths were of pedestrians or motorists who had been struck by a train–often after ignoring a crossing gate or signal. But no–such deaths must be charged to the trains, trains are unsafe.

    But most bike fatalities are caused by bikes colliding with–guess what–autos. Wouldn’t, using the same logic to demonstrate the manifest unsafety of trains, such occurences be charged to automobiles? Take the bleeping cars off the road, and bikes are much safer! :) (For that matter, if we take the cars off the road so that the trains have fewer obstacles to hit, then trains are much safer).

    I’m not suggesting that we actually remove cars from the road to artifically improve the safety statistics of bikes and trains, of course. Instead, I’m merely pointing out the sheer absurdity of these numbers, taken way out of context. When you have a collision between two modes of transport with signficantly different masses, generally the lighter mode–and any passengers/riders/drivers thereon or therein–is gonna get smooshed.

    Pedestrians get smooshed all the time. Should we ban walking? Of course, we do ban walking along or across freeways, especially in urban environments where there are is a lot of traffic. But we also ban people from walking down railroad tracks, but still folks find ways to get run over by trains…

  34. EngineerScotty
    July 30, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link

    Why does Terry Parker’s whining of how unfairly motorists are treated, sound a lot like rich white guys whining about affirmative action? True, occasionlly some deserving young white kid gets the proverbial shaft.

    But when it comes to complaining about it? Get in line, kid. The line forms way the hell over there. There’s a whole lotta people with bigger gripes than you who are ahead of you in line.

    And so it is with the whole “poor oppressed motorist” spiel. Nearly a century of public funding has gone into building a complete and excellent road network (albeit one that is getting old) and related infrastructure. Car dealers can be found in any town; gas stations in every neighborhood. Asphalt and concrete goes everywhere, as do gas pipelines and other assorted stuff. Aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere making sure that oil from our good friends in the Middle East isn’t disturbed by the many folks there who don’t much like us. And a frigging war in Iraq, with thousands of our troops dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, of varying affiliations, just for their oil. At $4 a gallon, a load of good it’s done… though if you’re an oil company exec, you gotta love the re$ults.

    And yet when anyone tries to expand *other* means of transportation–especially things like rail, it’s whine whine whine whine whine. It ain’t fair–nobody rides those, so we shouldn’t bother. Transit riders should bootstrap a similar network themselves, without nary a dime from motorists–anything else is unfair. Bicycle riders should pay for that bike lane–anything that my SUV can’t drive on, I don’t wanna contribute to.

    Of course “nobody” rides rail systems and bus networks which have been neglected for sixty-plus years! There are many places in the world with good-to-excellent transit service–some of them in the US–and that’s because their transit systems are as comprehensive (or nearly so) as their road networks. Networks imply network effects–the more the system is built, the greater the overall utility. They are greater than the sum of their parts.

    While gas may go down a bit, as presidential politics and economic speculation and other issues in the world marketplace intervene, don’t expect to see $2/gallon gas anytime soon. The infrastructure we got, which worked well at $2 a gallon, we can’t afford for too long at $4 a gallon.

  35. jim karlock
    July 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm Link

    The infrastructure we got, which worked well at $2 a gallon, we can’t afford for too long at $4 a gallon.
    JK: My best guess is that we will do just what we did last time and what the Europeans do: Drive more fuel-efficient cars. (Remember Europeans use cars for around 78% of their person-miles.)

    What will not happen, in the long run, is increased transit market share. (Note that transit’s market share is far below what it was during/after the last gas crisis.)

    Thanks
    JK

  36. Erik Halstead
    July 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link

    Chris Smith wrote: What will it take to make our culture accept bikes, walking and transit in the same way?

    Chris (and all), you know my answer to this.

    Except that Portland’s transit leaders refuse to accept the answer.

    Building more MAX and Streetcar lines which exist only for political motivations to benefit developers in an effort to encourage growth, rather than serving existing residents, does nothing to provide benefit for the public who has a transportation need.

    We built a Westside MAX line which only served to create sprawl in an area that 15 years ago was farmland. Today, Orenco Village is a shining example of roadway improvements on Cornell and Cornelius Pass Roads and numerous other neighborhood streets. Oh, and there’s a MAX station – with a park-and-ride lot.

    We neglect our bus system so that many areas of the Portland area, where there are willing passengers, get shafted with an obsolete, unreliable bus, which lacks air conditioning in the summer, and passengers get to wait on the side of the road in the winter in the rain, with no shelter, no sidewalks, and get 30-60 minute waits for the next bus on top of that.

    What will it take to create a transit friendly environment? Investment. The $1.4B or whatever investment in just the ONE proposed light rail line to Milwaukie would buy 1,800+ 60′ hybrid-electric articulated busses – this would replace TriMet’s fleet three times over. The $1.4B could, instead of building just ONE light rail line, could purchase a BRAND NEW fleet of 1,000 busses, plus investments in bus stops region wide. Many of those busses would be articulated busses which would improve capacity without increasing operating costs; hybrid busses for better fuel economy and fewer emissions; and would include modern amenities like air conditioning.

    The good news is that for $1.4 billion, Milwaukie and the already over-served, underpopulated South Waterfront will get transit investment. The bad news, is that for $1.4 billion, nearly every other community in Portland will face more transit cuts and disinvestment at the hands of TriMet.

  37. Chris Smith
    July 30, 2008 at 6:25 pm Link

    Erik, I don’t accept your premise that car culture is perpetuated by how we choose to allocate our transit resources among modes. My question is about how we get society to recognize that owning and driving a car is not always the best answer to mobility.

  38. Wells
    July 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm Link

    !! THE GAS TAX IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL !!

    Consider the severe impediment that cars impose on other fundamental modes of urban/suburban travel to be a “Constitional Inequity” and mount a legal challenge, “Pedestrians vs Cars.”

    Since it can be shown that pedestrian-specific infrastructure can make crossing the street safe and convenient, because automobile-specific infrastructure imposes an impediment to walking, bicycling and mass transit (mass transit users are first of all walkers), automobile-specific funding must reflect a constitutional protection toward these other modes of travel.

    In other words:

    !! THE GAS TAX IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL !!

    Whoever disagrees is a fascist evil-doer!

  39. Dave
    July 30, 2008 at 7:33 pm Link

    My question is about how we get society to recognize that owning and driving a car is not always the best answer to mobility.

    I don’t think you do. The post you referenced smells like a bunch of urban legend, much like the stories of GM buying up the streetcars.

    People wanted to own cars is why the car took over. Read articles written at the time for a perspective on it. Nobody had to force the car down anyone’s throat, because it’s much more convenient for the lifestyle many Americans wanted and continue to work for.

    I’d be happy not to own my car, but I don’t want to find another job, and I sure as hell don’t want to live anywhere near my suburban office.

    It’s also nice being able to decide I want to go to Hood River or Lincoln City and get there in a reasonable amount of time, while stopping and seeing the things along the way I want to stop and see.

    For commuting we might be able to get some people away from their cars and into transit, but with the weather in Portland I’m not sure walking or bikes will ever beat out an enclosed SOV that moves as fast or faster.

    Besides, if price is a factor, the monthly cost of my car is roughly $375 (counting purchase price amortized over the 4 years I’ve owned the car.) Right now the car still has retained 60-70% of the purchase price (according to KBB), so I really should be at most looking at roughly $200 to $225 instead, since I haven’t really spent the full purchase price, as the vehicle is still insured for and able to be sold for a portion of the full purchase price.

    To take that math a bit farther, some of the cash also came from a previously owned vehicle, which when I figure that in means that my cost of ownership has dropped to roughly $120 per month. Insurance, maintenance, 1/24th the registration fee, and gas. What does a monthly transit pass run these days?

    For the benefits a car gives, it’s a great deal. Walking and biking are cheap, but very distance (and somewhat time) limited. Transit is location, destination and somewhat time limited. People have complaints about cars, but they’re convenient and can be reasonably priced.

  40. Michael H. Wilson
    July 30, 2008 at 7:36 pm Link

    How about we get the politicians to open the now closed transportation market to anyone who wants to operate a private for-hire business. That might get some new ideas in the marketplace and thus some real innovation. Hmmm. How does the Chris Smith Jitney Service sound to you Serving all of North east Portland and area. Naw its against the law for Chris to own such an business. Why?

    MHW

  41. R A Fontes
    July 30, 2008 at 8:15 pm Link

    Did anybody notice from the Portlandfacts site cited by JK that there is an inverse relationship between LRT deaths per 100 million passenger miles and the number of miles ridden on MAX? Could it be that we could eliminate MAX deaths simply by building out the system beyond a LRT advocate’s wildest dreams?

  42. M. Lasley
    July 30, 2008 at 8:44 pm Link

    An adult all-zone monthly pass is $76 (http://trimet.org/store/adultallzones.shtml) which, based on your math, Dave, is a minimum savings of $44 per month.

  43. Terry Parker
    July 30, 2008 at 9:34 pm Link

    EngineerScotty said: “Why does Terry Parker’s whining of how unfairly motorists are treated, sound a lot like rich white guys whining about affirmative action? True, occasionally some deserving young white kid gets the proverbial shaft.”

    In response with no racial overtones: Bicyclists whining for more exclusive bicycle infrastructure as long as somebody else pays for it (often times motorists) sounds awful lot like spoiled little children now in adulthood still expecting mommy and daddy (or the government) to fund their lifestyles. I have a direct solution for that: A Bicycle Tax!

  44. EngineerScotty
    July 30, 2008 at 10:23 pm Link

    Regarding the privatization of transit:

    I’ve no objection–in principle–of the partial privatization of transit operations (vehicles, drivers, etc). By partial, I refer to some level of rate and route regulation (franchising, for instance), along with some legal assurance that the systems are interoperable. Hong Kong is an excellent example of a quality transit system which is FTMP operated by several private firms. Regulation of operations is necessary, though; otherwise private entities will have a tendency to provide redundant service on profitable routes, and lousy service–or none at all–on the rest.

    I have more serious doubts about the underlying infrastructure (roads, rails, electrification) being privately owned. As I’ve opined above and in other threads; these really need to be managed as a common good, not as a profit-making business.

    Now, will for-profit transit work in a market like Portland? My suspicion is, probably not, other than a few profitable routes. (The Portland Streetcar, were it to charge 1-zone fares for all riders, rather than lying mostly in Fareless Square, would certainly make money, with all the yuppies who ride it ’round town). We have neither the population nor the density of a Hong Kong or a New York; provision of the levels of service needed for an effective system is probably not possible without going into the red. And Tri-Met indeed shows this; most of its budget comes from taxes rather than fares.

    One privatization model that can work, is outsourcing–the contracting of private firms to handle various aspects of operations (driving, maintenance, fare collection) for a set rate, with the public entity absorbing any loss from operations. Privatization may reduce cost in some cases. (Unfortunately, this usually comes at the expense of employees; who are invariably less well-compensated when no longer eligible for representation by public-sector unions).

    So is this an argument against transit? Some say yes–there’s this belief that transit Has To Pay Its Own Way in some quarters. But the roads are not held to that standard. Outside of a few well-known toll routes (the Pennsylvania Turnpike, some of the private bypass routes in the LA area), roads simply don’t make money. They’re not expected to–roads are regarded as a public good, much like the police or fire department. (You generally don’t want to live in a place where law enforcement makes money from operations; and one such place in Oregon, the city of Coburg, was recently slapped down hard by the state legislature for abusive speed traps). While much road funding comes from users, not all does; some comes from–guess again–taxes. And nobody expects that the roads will turn a profit; ODOT certainly doesn’t make money from its operations.

    We should strive to make transit, whatever mode, more efficient. But the requirement that it be profitable or nonexistence is simply wishful thinking.

  45. jim karlock
    July 31, 2008 at 2:42 am Link

    EngineerScotty: But the roads are not held to that standard. Outside of a few well-known toll routes (the Pennsylvania Turnpike, some of the private bypass routes in the LA area), roads simply don’t make money.
    JK: Literally true, but overall road users pay most of road costs through taxes and fees. Some put it at a slight subsidy to roads and others put roads as a profit center. In any case, a big chunk of federal gas tax money goes to transit (18%?) Here are some credible papers:
    PortlandFacts.com/Roads/Docs/Delucchi_Chart.htm (follow the link to the university published source)
    urbantransport.org/costcomp.pdf
    And finally, my contribution: PortlandFacts.com/Roads/RoadSubsidy.htm

    EngineerScotty: The Portland Streetcar, were it to charge 1-zone fares for all riders, rather than lying mostly in Fareless Square, would certainly make money, with all the yuppies who ride it ’round town)
    JK: Last I looked, that thing costs $1.25 per trip. A one-zone fare is $1.75 so that should make a profit if anyone would pay $1.75 for an average 3/4 mile trip. (There might be a slight loss in ridership!)

    EngineerScotty: We should strive to make transit, whatever mode, more efficient. But the requirement that it be profitable or nonexistence is simply wishful thinking.
    JK: Actually all Trimeth has to do to break even is to increse its income from riders by a factor of FIVE while holding costs constant. Considering that costs just might go up a bit, the income would probably have to increase by a factor of TEN or more. By then most of the area trips would be on Trimet and they still wouldn’t be making a profit.

    Of course driving is much cheaper than the true cost of Trimet. See: PortlandFacts.com/Transit/Cost-Cars-Transit(2005).htm – be sure to follow the links to the data behind the numbers. (Add about 7 cents/mile to the actual cost of cars number for $4/gal gas)

    Thanks
    JK

  46. jim karlock
    July 31, 2008 at 3:08 am Link

    JK: Here is a little hint that the Earth may have endless supplies of hydrocarbons: Saturn’s moon, Titan, has lakes of liquid hydrocarbons. If other planets/moons have, presumable, non biological hydrocarbon, why can’t Earth also have hydro carbons that date from the formation of the solar system?
    (I am quite aware that ethane is a gas at Earth temperature/pressure – but methane/ethane can be catalyzed into longer chains that are liquid.)

    From news report:
    “NASA scientists said Wednesday they had found liquid on Saturn’s moon Titan…”
    “Detection of liquid ethane confirms a long-held idea that lakes and seas filled with methane and ethane exist on Titan,” said Larry Soderblom, a scientist with the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.”

    From: breitbart.com/article.php?id=080730231339.40cxery2&show_article=1

    Perhaps peak oil is also a progressive’s fnatasy.

    Thanks
    JK

  47. Douglas K.
    July 31, 2008 at 7:37 am Link

    Question presented: “What will it take to make our culture accept bikes, walking and transit in the same way? What can we proactively do to start this shift in thinking?”

    Karlock’s response: direct our attention to an interesting but irrelevant little factoid about the oceans of Saturn’s largest moon, and then toss in a complete non sequitur about Earth’s petroleum supply.

    Off-topic much?

    Getting back to Chris’s question, check out this article from Ecoworldly.com: 17 reasons why bicycles are the most popular vehicle in the world today..

    A couple of thinks listed there made me think: one way to make bicycles more popular is to make them cooler. I wonder how many people tried out biking because of Lance Armstrong? Imagine some kind of national promo campaign that profiled celebrities — actors, models, athletes — who bicycle, even just for exercise or recreation.

    That aside, I think stressing the health benefits, cost savings, and sheer fun of cycling probably are the most compelling reasons for most people to get on bikes.

  48. Douglas K.
    July 31, 2008 at 7:40 am Link

    “A couple of points listed there”

    I really need to preview before posting.

  49. Matthew
    July 31, 2008 at 1:22 pm Link

    “Here is a little hint that the Earth may have endless supplies of hydrocarbons:”“why can’t Earth also have hydro carbons that date from the formation of the solar system?”

    Because if the hydrocarbons on earth were formed with solar system that would still mean that they were finite, (since the size of the earth is finite,) just like the Uranium and Phosphorus (which were actually formed with the solar system) supplies are also finite.

    Peak Uranium is somewhere between 10-20 years away. We could get around that problem by using breeder reactors. That is, if we wanted to get around it, which I don’t know if we do. (Renewables are probably a better idea.) Peak Phosphorus is around 30 years away. We’ll probably need to reduce the population of the planet (one way or another) when that happens…

  50. John E.
    July 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm Link

    AL M Says:
    “Jim K-
    Do you belong per chance to the flat earth society?”

    Everyone who reads and still clings to the Al Gore IPCC AGW farce is in the flat earth society.

    Whereas JK and others who recognize fatal flaws in the AGW science, modeling and campaign are members of the critical thinking society.

  51. EngineerScotty
    July 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm Link

    A little lesson in chemistry and astrophysics for y’all

    Hydrocarbons are complex chemical elements, which can be formed or destroyed by ordinary chemical processes. Hydrocarbons are not formed by major astrophysical events, which result in nuclear reactions and produced the various elements. But as a chunk of whatever in space cools down, the loose nuclei therein bind together with electrons to form electrically neutral atoms, and as further cooling occurs and said atoms occupy lower energy states, then complex molecules–like hydrocarbons–form.

    And Earth has lots of hydrocarbon in its crust. Most of it is methane–natural gas–which is usable as a vehicle fuel, but there are presently lots of infrastructure issues. Methane has the undesirable property (for use as a mobile fuel) that it is a gas at room temparture, making it harder to deal with (you gotta keep the stuff under pressure to make it a liquid). Hydrocarbons with higher numbers of carbon atoms–the stuff that makes up gasoline (the word “octane” refers to a C8H18 molecule; though other hydrocarbons are present as well)–are the result of more complex chemical or biological processes; one of these being the decomposition of large amounts of dead biological matter–hence the name “dead dinosaurs”.

    Uranium and phosphorus, on the other hand, are both elements; so we cannot create or destroy either except through nuclear reactions (either man-made, or naturally occurring radioactive decay).

    The amount of hydrocarbon is only theoretically limited by the amount of hydrogen and carbon; both of which are plentiful on Earth. But turning raw hydrogen and carbon into hydrocarbons requires energy, and the reverse (burning it) liberates energy.

    The upshot is–it doesn’t matter how many lakes of hydrocarbon are on Titan; we can’t at present get to it. As the surface temperature of Titan is about -179.45 C (93.7 K), it’s a sure bet that the lake in question would evaporate if moved to earth–it’s most likely methane and ethane; not something we could fill up our tank with.

  52. Greg Tompkins
    July 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm Link

    I walk to work every day unless it’s raining. My observation down here in Salem (in contrast to Portland) is that cars are more courteous toward other drivers but less so to peds. and bicyclists. I almost got run over right in front of the capitol building where there are large white painted blocks indicating a pedestrian crossing. I enjoy my walking, don’t own a car any more (I ride Amtrak to get to Portland or take the bus when its raining). I don’t like the insinuation that to not own a car means you’re poverty stricken. I choose to use the money I would be paying for a car, insurance, gas, etc. so I can maximize my retirement savings in my state 457 plan.

  53. Erik Halstead
    July 31, 2008 at 7:53 pm Link

    Chris Smith wrote: Erik, I don’t accept your premise that car culture is perpetuated by how we choose to allocate our transit resources among modes. My question is about how we get society to recognize that owning and driving a car is not always the best answer to mobility.

    How can you not accept that in areas where scarce transit dollars are spent (i.e. in your neighborhood) that transit is widely accepted; while in other areas that pay the same exact amount in taxes for public transit receive far less transit service that transit is not widely accepted?

    Would you ride the Streetcar if the Streetcar was 18 years old, lacked air conditioning, was dirty on the inside, and your streetcar stop was in a drainage ditch? Of course not. Yet your neighborhood received substantial transit investment, funded through the entire City of Portland.

    Meanwhile, those of us who live away from the gold-plated Streetcar line get busses that are old, lack modern amenities, bus stops that are on the side of the road and lack any amenities besides a bus stop sign. How can you go on suggesting that that kind of “investment” is a deterrant to transit usage?

    If your argument is that we need to get people out of their cars, the answer is transit investment. Is spending $1.4 billion on a less-than-six mile route to serve Milwaukie going to have the same impact as spending that money on brand new busses and bus stop improvements across the three counties – especially given that a large percentage of the ridership on that one MAX line will come from existing transit riders? How does building park-and-ride lots encourage more transit ridership and less automobile use – it encourages more local auto trips that could easily be taken by local transit services.

    So, mode allocation of funds is extremely important because Metro focuses on only specific, always a rail based project, instead of the purpose to move people from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’. Metro walks into a transit planning meeting saying “how can we build a train line”, not “how can we get people out of their cars”. The result is predictable.

  54. Michael H. Wilson
    July 31, 2008 at 9:13 pm Link

    Engineerscotty writes: private entities will have a tendency to provide redundant service on profitable routes, and lousy service–or none at all–on the rest.”

    MW replies: Trimet does this as well.

    One of the problems with the current system may be the type of vehicle they use and the way they route those vehicles. It just might be wiser to have neighborhood circulators, much like ride share taxis. Use that as a starting place and build from there. BTW the Dodge Sprinter which might make an excellent vehicle for this type of service get, I am told, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 mpg.

    MW

  55. Dave in KY
    August 1, 2008 at 8:32 am Link

    There’s some good ammunition about bike lane subsidies in this article:

    Whose Roads?
    Defining Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways

    by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 30 November, 2004

    ABSTRACT
    Many people believe that nonmotorized modes (walking, cycling, and their variations) have an inferior right to use public roads compared with motor vehicles. This reflects the belief that motor vehicles are more important to society than nonmotorized modes, and that roads are funded by motorists. This paper investigates these assumptions. It finds that nonmotorized modes have the legal right to use public roads, that nonmotorized modes provide significant transportation benefits, and pedestrians and cyclists pay a significant share of roadway costs. Although motorist user fees (fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees) fund most highway expenses, funding for local roads (the roads pedestrians and cyclists use most) originates mainly from general taxes. Since bicycling and walking impose lower roadway costs than motorized modes, people who rely primarily on nonmotorized modes tend to overpay their fair share of roadway costs and subsidize motorists.

Leave a Reply

By posting a comment, you are granting a license to Portland Transport for your comment. Please refer to The Rules.