A couple of years ago, PDOT went through the exercise of developing a Freight Master Plan for the City of Portland. Metro is now going through similar exercise.
I testified before City Council in favor of the plan, believing that a clearly articulated system of where trucks should be for what purposes was a good thing. I did warn Council that the devil was in the details, and the street design guidelines for truck streets would be critical.
Well, PDOT has just released the design guidelines document (PDF, 5.2M).
Overall, I think they’ve done a good job, sorting through the complex trade-offs between trucks, cars, bikes and peds. But one section stuck in my craw a little bit:
In some instances, deliveries to businesses in these locations can be completed with smaller trucks. Their compact size and tight turning radius make them suitable for narrow street geometries and local deliveries. Typical trucks include the SU-30 and WB-40 truck types. However, there are times when larger trucks such as a WB-67 must circulate in Center and Main Street areas and these situations need to be accommodated during the street design process. The key design elements that need to be considered for the occasional large truck are lane widths and intersection design. (emphasis mine)
What that says is that we need to design the intersections in our centers and on our mainstreets to make sure that 53-foot trailers can turn (a WB-67 is a 53′ trailer plus a 14′ cab). This has a significant impact on livability, because it will mean that crossing distances may be wider in areas where pedestrians are intended to be a dominant mode.
Is it really necessary that businesses in places like Hollywood and Hawthorne get deliveries via 53′ trailers? I realize it’s a cost issue, but does livability have to be sacrificed to the least cost for deliveries?
0 responses to “Where Do We Put the Trucks?”
So I bought a (rain) water tank a few month ago. It was 5 feet across and weighed 200 lbs: It would have fit on a pickup truck easily, and almost would have fit on my bicycle trailer (if only I could keep it from turning over in a breeze.) The trucking company sent a 53 foot trailer to my house to deliver it. It was the only thing in the truck when they got to my house, and I know that it was sitting in the trucking company’s warehouse in Vancouver for a few days before it actually came to my house, so unless the truck had been loaded with other stuff (and had unloaded all that other stuff before it showed up at my house at 9:30am,) it seems likely that they brought that truck because there wasn’t something smaller around… And so maybe that is why they are worried about this problem: A lot of trucking companies may not be setup for anything but 53 foot trailers. I had to help him get out of the neighborhood because he couldn’t really make the turns on my residential street. And since having trucks jamming up the intersections on Hawthorne making 5 point turns will get old very quickly, well…
That said, if Portland makes a policy that there are parts of town that you just aren’t going to be able to get 53 foot trailer into, (and signs it as such,) I think the trucking companies will deal with it. It probably will make some deliveries more expensive, but that trade off should be explicitly considered against the livability benefits of narrower/slower/etc streets, and not just “assumed” into the design guidelines…
Chris: This has a significant impact on livability, because it will mean that crossing distances may be wider in areas where pedestrians are intended to be a dominant mode.
JK: Since when is livability defined a pedestrian crossing distance? How about cost of living from all those costly small trucks? Cost of all those high rises on the cost of housing and thus the cost of living? Cost of all those little mixed use stores that are too small to benefit from the savings of scale?
Chris: Is it really necessary that businesses in places like Hollywood and Hawthorne get deliveries via 53′ trailers? I realize it’s a cost issue, but does livability have to be sacrificed to the least cost for deliveries?
JK: Chris, you may be rich enough to ignore cost, but most people have to consider cost. If they have to pay more for goods in the “livable” area, they will drive to the nearest Wallmart to save a pile of cash so that they can spend it on their kids. Why do you refuse to acknowledge this?
Maybe we should deman 103′ trucks to cut our shipping costs in half?
JK wrote: Since when is livability defined a pedestrian crossing distance?
It’s a component of livability… how hard it is to cross the street.
Although (as we’ve previously debated elsewhere), relative difficulty in crossing the street can be a function of things other than crossing distance. For example, I am of the opinion that Interstate Avenue is far easier to walk along and to cross than it was prior to MAX, due to the sidewalk and crossing improvements, and the ability to make the crossing one lane at a time in many of the crossing locations.
However, as you have pointed out before, the actual number of legal (mostly unmarked) crossings has decreased, and pedestrians may have to walk further to reach a crossing. In my opinion, this is a fair trade-off because the quality and ease-of-use of the remaining crossings has been greatly enhanced, making the overall crossing process less of a chore, and therefore more livable for pedestrians.
I would think that with all the handwringing about carbon footprint increases from bridge projects, that the last thing people around here would want to do is increase the number of trucks driving in the city by decreasing the individual trucks’ capacities through statutes and ordinances.
The issue of more, smaller trucks increasing the total carbon footprint is not so simple. Surya Technologies did some interesting freight logistics modeling to calculate the environmental impact – they used carbon dioxide as one of their key measurements. While not true for every case it turns out that using several smaller vehicles can reduce the total carbon footprint. The smaller vehicles may pollute more per ton-mile but their routes can be more direct and shorter. You can watch a video of a presentation they made at the PSU transportation seminar series for the details: http://www.cts.pdx.edu/seminars.htm
In many parts of the world, the 53′ trailer is virtually unheard of, for a combination of reasons.
Such trucks are primarily designed for long-haul shipping and are arguably sub-optimal for local deliveries (where less than a truckload is loaded or unloaded at any one point).
In many places, these trucks simply won’t fit in the urban infrastructure; the US is a bit unusual in that streets are mostly designed to accomodate them. Of course, in these same many places, long-haul freight is dominated by rail–and the freight rail ecosystem is more healthy than it is here.
If you’re a mixed mode shipper, and you have a fleet of long-haul trucks and drivers trained to drive them–it often does become more economical to use the 18-wheeler for local deliveries. Back when gas was $2 a gallon, the cost of the driver was a bigger concern than the cost of the fuel for local routes. Much of the time, the truck stands idle or switched off while freight is (un)loaded; but the driver is still getting paid, often at union scale. At $4 a gallon, long-haul shipping is hurting, and even for short trips, a smaller and more fuel-efficient rig might make sense.
But the question is–should we design urban infrastructure to exclude the big rigs; either for liveability concerns such as this one, or possibly even (conspiracy alert!) to encourage a long-term switch to rail for long-haul shipping?
The impact of uniformly designing for WB-67s is to largely undermine any efforts to make an area walkable. Appropriate corner radii in main street districts are generally 10′-15′, up to 25′ maximum. WB-67s will require 40′, 50′, 70′ corner radii, which are anathema to walkable design, unless you happen to enjoy being run down by cars taking advantage of the high-speed turning these large corners allow.
This is clearly something PDOT let slip through at the behest of the trucking lobby, and has nothing to do with good urban design.
Unit, I don’t think it’s quite that bad. The standard being applied is not ‘design for’, but rather ‘accomodate’, which means than the turn need only be possible, not easy. Under this standard a long truck may need to use an opposing lane, mount a curb, etc.
But even at that standard, I think there may be serious impacts.
Would truck skirts (like are found in traffic circles) help–an area which is logistically part of the curb (and cars may not drive over in rounding the corner), but which is cleared of obstructions so that a truck’s trailer may safely pass over it when executing a tight turn?
Such an area might be demarcated with “bots dots” or humps to make it clear that autos are to stay out.
I’m assuming that the issue here is that large trucks, by requiring larger corner radii, make life more difficult for pedestrians; and that this isn’t a wedge issue being brought up to get rid of big rigs, because you dislike ’em for some other reason. (And there are certainly reasons to dislike ’em…)
The document does contain standards for mountable curbs, probably slightly more general than truck skirts per say.
As you say, there are other reasons not to like big rigs, but my objection is to screwing up pedestrian districts to accommodate them.
Let’s take the Pearl as an example. The new Safeway will have a dock on 14th (which is classified as a Truck Access Street if I recall) – that’s great and if they have deliveries in 53′ trailers, so be it.
But I wouldn’t want to design the intersection of 11th and Lovejoy to accommodate one of those trailers turning!
‘mountable curbs’ oooh , transit pornnnn
Livability is a subjective term. There is no headfast definition that can define it. Livability means different things to different people – driving their cars for some people, bikes or transit to others, and high density heat island walkable neighborhoods to a few more.
As for mountable curbs – they are a safety hazard for pedestrians if the concept is to design intersections such that tractor trailer rigs must climb the curb to make turning movements. Therefore, intersections on arterial streets need to be designed wide enough to eliminate the need for mountable curbs and still handle a set of doubles or long single trailers.
Lanes widths on all streets also must be wide enough to accommodate trucks, including not having the mirrors hanging over the white lines. This is just common sense safety. Ten foot lanes are totally unacceptable. The width of a TriMet bus mirror to mirror is ten and one-half feet wide. Large trucks mirror to mirror are compatible in width. The minimum lane widths on any major arterial including streets such as West Burnside (which is the only East-West city border to city border through street in Portland) must be maintained at no less than 11 feet wide. Twelve foot lanes would be much safer and even better. Moreover, there is no need (other than a political mindset) to reduce lane widths that handle volumes of traffic just so a few people can have wider sidewalks on one street. I doubt bicyclists would find acceptable two foot bike lanes just because the tires fit between the lines.
Furthermore, residential neighborhood streets too must be designed wide enough to handle the width of large straight trucks too. The example here can be found in my neighborhood where the oversized garbage trucks Waste Management is now operating have difficulty maneuvering on some of the narrower streets when cars are parked on both sides, which is allowed (and should be in front of a person’s own home), and/or at times can not get through at all. These streets were never designed to accommodate big trucks or even carry the weight, yet as contracted by the City, the garbage haulers are allowed to use these monsters and probably would want to raise their excessive fees even more if they were required to operate smaller trucks. Therefore, in this case, livability must also reflect the cost of living and what people can afford, which would likely be LESS than the rates the City sets.
Personally, living on 28th ave and being subjected to 20+ 53′ tractor trailers a day, it kind of pisses me off when JK and Terry Parker insinuate that neighbors should just suck it up and accept big rig trucks driving through our neighborhoods!
These trucks are extremely noisy, shake our entire house, emit a huge amount of nasty blue exhaust, and wake you up at 4am everytime they pass by. Not to mention even trying to cross the crosswalk is very intimidating for people, as you don’t know if the driver sees you when crossing the street (and the streets here are narrow – its worse when you have 5 lanes to cross and they are going 20 mph faster).
I think people who actually are going to live near these things should have a say in their design. Reading some report online and actually experiencing it day in and day out are two completely different things, and the casual reader has absolutely no place to stand on such a livability issue such as this.
I would much prefer the smaller delivery trucks – I’ve seen some that look like this in town – that are about 4 times quieter. Toyota also makes a hybrid version. Not to mention they are quite maneuverable.
If you want to see serious truck delivery problems, you should watch the truck deliver cargo to the Zupan’s on Belmont. It takes the guy about 15 minutes to back up…
“If you want to see serious truck delivery problems, you should watch the truck deliver cargo to the Zupan’s on Belmont. It takes the guy about 15 minutes to back up…”
That’s nothing. I’ve seen guys backing 53′ trailers into this dock:
Some of these drivers are *really* good.
zilfondel commented “I think people who actually are going to live near these things should have a say in their design.”
If that is the case, people should also have a say whether or not they want to accept bike lanes on streets in their neighborhoods, whether or not they want streetcars crammed down their throats in neighborhoods, what streets should be designated for busses to use, the option to eliminate curb extensions that congest traffic on neighborhood streets, the option to reject bicycle boulevards, the option to directly tax bicyclists for their use of the streets, etc. For example, several years ago, many of the businesses, possibly even a majority, along SE 7th Avenue did not want the bike lakes forced upon them and wanted to keep the street four lanes for the amount of traffic that uses it. The City pretty much ignored what the businesses had to say and reduced the street to two lanes putting in the bike lanes in anyway over their objections.
So what zilfondel is suggesting here is possibly a double standard as long as he agrees with the outcome. To some degree that kind of double standard already exists with the current closed door one-sided political mindset (this is frustrating and ticks me off) that includes stacking the deck on PDOT citizen committees to support a predetermined conclusion before the outreach public process even starts, and not allowing other ideas such as using electric powered trolley busses instead of streetcars and a bicycle tax to have a full round of free flowing public discussion with the possibly of being implemented. There is a definite firewall at City Hall that stifles any concepts other than those being currently promoted to control lifestyles, housing and transportation choices of the people.
If people want services such as grocery stores (preferably the full line discount grocery stores rather than boutique and specialty grocery stores) close by in their neighborhoods, they also must accept the truck traffic that comes with them to fill the shelves. Moreover, if small trucks are used instead of bigger ones, efficiency is lost in terms of manpower, the number of vehicles using the streets and fuel economy. This all boils down to the cost savings of using large trucks over an even a bigger fleet of smaller ones filling the streets, all of which then relates to the lower or higher price of food a person pays at the grocery store itself.
In my neighborhood, I’d love more bike lanes.
I’d rather not see too many trucks, especially of the 18-wheeler variety. Those that do show up had better be making a local delivery.
In a commercial or industrial district, obviously, trucks are more important and should be accomodated.
WRT SE 7th: A four-line road with no left-turn-lane or bike lanes, was replaced with a roadway with two through lanes, a left turn refuge, and two bike lanes. In a place with lots of mixed mode traffic, this is known to be a more efficient street configuration–even for autos. Many conversions of this type have been performed (SE Molalla in Oregon City is one example I can think of), and extensive traffic engineering research has shown that this configuration reduce time for autos.
With the two-through-lanes-in-each-direction (with no turn lanes) configuration, autos in the left through lane are constantly being blocked by cars ahead turning left; turning left onto the road (from a side street or driveway) is more difficult, and cars in the right lane are being blocked–by bicycles, who have no other (legal) choice but to occupy an auto lane. Parallel parking is more difficult and dangerous, as there is little room between the parking lane and the through lane. Crossing the street is more dangerous for pedestrians–as soon as you step beyond any cars parked on the shoulder, you’re in the middle of traffic (and likewise, motorists can often not see pedestrians who have to cross in front of parked cars, especially taller vehicles like SUVs).
Even if no bicycles use it, the bike lane serves a useful purpose in separating traffic from obstacles and pedestrians.
Of course, not having two through lanes in each direction makes drag-racing down the street problematic, and flagrant speeders who would otherwise whip down SE 7th like the Daytona 500 are frustrated when stuck behind law-abiding motorists; but I find myself untroubled by those concerns…
Terry wrote: If that is the case, people should also have a say […] whether or not they want streetcars crammed down their throats in neighborhoods
There is a process where people have a say. It’s called the Streetcar System Plan. I know you know about this, because I saw you at one or two of the workshops and open houses, and boy did you have your say, I might add. :-)
The district working groups had numerous public meetings (and will likely have a few more.) A representative of your neighborhood association has been attending the NE district working group meetings. The Streetcar System Plan meetings were pretty widely publicized, including a few appearances on the evening news.
Volunteers have canvassed neighborhoods and businesses, and have put together surveys. You can take the survey online right now at: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46134
Regarding curb extensions, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, etc., I know that the recent improvements on Hawthorne and Sandy were the result of a lot of community input, with feedback from neighborhood associations and business associations.
I know that we don’t get to directly vote on every speed bump, bulb curb, or blinking light (would we want to?), but these policies and plans are not formed in a vacuum.
I know it’s controversial, but some people actually like curb extensions, bike boulevards, transit, etc., in their neighborhoods. :-)
Bob said: “There is a process where people have a say. It’s called the Streetcar System Plan…”
The process is flawed because the district working groups are not considering and/or comparing other options such as electric trolley busses to streetcars. Furthermore, these support groups are made up for the most part of only people who champion the unrealistic one-sided agenda of building a web of financially subsidized streetcars throughout the city, and therefore, not representative of the public as a whole. Even without any comparisons to other alternatives, there is no doubt in my mind, in due time, these working groups will be touted as representatives of public opinion by Sam Adams so he can move forward with a another smoke screen scheme to the public so he can get what he wants.
As for the recent changes made on Sandy Boulevard; many of them are anything but improvements for the motorists that paid for the project. PDOT again ignored input from those people who objected to any part of the preconceived agenda, and made sure any people who had a different concept of were eliminated from consideration for participating on the citizen advisory committee. I know this for a fact since I took the litmus test to participate. Furthermore, I have no doubt that any advisory committee for Hawthorne was handled in the same manor. Therefore again, the much touted transparency and public process is flawed.
The process is flawed because the district working groups are not considering and/or comparing other options such as electric trolley busses to streetcars.
That is incorrect. I know for a fact that recommendations coming from the NE and SE district working groups specifically include consideration of trolleybuses, and the city prepared a technical document reviewing the capabilities of all transit modes for the participants to evaluate.
It is true that the process started off streetcar-centric, but once in the hands of the participants it has explored numerous options.
there is no doubt in my mind, in due time, these working groups will be touted as representatives of public opinion
Membership of the working groups is not hand-picked. Anyone is welcome to attend. Opposition is one of the items measured and included in the evaluation of every corridor.
As for the recent changes made on Sandy Boulevard; many of them are anything but improvements
Personally, I think Sandy is greatly improved for all users. As a motorist, I like being able to make protected left turns where I couldn’t before. I like having an actual signal at Glisan. As a pedestrian, I appreciate the new marked crossings and the new pedestrian crossing signal. Your mileage may vary. :-)
Bob R. wrote: I know for a fact that recommendations coming from the NE and SE district working groups specifically include consideration of trolleybuses,
And where/when was the Southwest transportation planning meeting?
And where/when was the Southwest transportation planning meeting?
According to a flyer I still have in my inbox:
Northwest and Southwest District Workshop
Monday, April 14
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Lincoln High School, Room #169
1600 SW Salmon St.
Bob said; “Personally, I think Sandy is greatly improved for all users.”
Personally I disagree with that premise. The left turn lanes are nice and so is the signal at Glisan, however the two biggest set backs to improvements (downgrades instead of upgrades) are (1) locating bus stops where the left turn lanes and center islands exist, and building the curb extensions that require busses to stop in travel lanes when boarding passengers instead of puling over and letting other vehicles pass (2) the zigzag pattern of the travel lanes. Another thing I do not like are the new lamp posts at intersections because the light is too harsh thereby making them a safety hazard distraction for drivers. Different lenses need to be used so the light is softer and more defused.
Also, following up on what Erik asked: “And where/when was the Southwest transportation planning meeting?”
Why not post them all? Personally I have reservations about going, especially if I am the only opposition in the room. Speak out against something and there is always some know-it-all there to object to your comments, and this was case in the small group at the open house I did attend. I felt the meeting was too structured to be in favor of only favoring streetcars even though the small group Jim Howell was in came out in support of trolley busses. Basically I was told by one of the participants in my small group that my comments were less than welcome if they were not in support of the streetcar concept being proposed even though I believe I respectfully listened to the comments of others.
Bob R. wrote: Lincoln High School, Room #169
1600 SW Salmon St.
That is downtown Portland, not southwest Portland. Just because the address is southwest doesn’t make it a part of what Portlanders call “southwest” Portland.
It’s like calling a public meeting at Cleveland High School sufficient for “Southeast Portland”, and wondering why folks in Lents are left out.
Wilson High School is “southwest”. So is Jackson Middle School. The distance from Lincoln High to my home is 5.8 miles as the crow flies, longer by car or bus. TriMet’s trip planner calls for a 59 minute trip, including 14 minutes walking and 10 minutes waiting, not including wait time for the 12 bus.
That is downtown Portland, not southwest Portland. Just because the address is southwest doesn’t make it a part of what Portlanders call “southwest” Portland.
Erik, when I posted the original schedule here back in March, in a thread which you read and commented on prolifically, you didn’t mention the meeting location as being a problem… that would have been a good time to mention your disagreement, 4 weeks before the meeting was scheduled to occur.
The distance from Lincoln High to my home is 5.8 miles as the crow flies
If you don’t mind my asking (feel free to skip it), what part of Southwest Portland do you live in? According to this boundary map, only the most outlying corner of Southwest Portland lies about 5.8 miles from Lincoln High School as-the-crow-flies, but my PDF reader/monitor settings could be a bit off.
Bob R. wrote: that would have been a good time to mention your disagreement, 4 weeks before the meeting was scheduled to occur.
It would have also been a good time at the time for the leaders who held the meetings to be inclusive to the City of Portland.
Maybe it’s time for that group to apologize to any part of Portland that was neglected, and hold a new round of meetings.
If you don’t mind my asking (feel free to skip it), what part of Southwest Portland do you live in?
Near the I-5/99W interchange.
Maybe it’s time for that group to apologize
Maybe or maybe not. They chose a prominent location, within the boundaries of SW Portland, very near multiple transit lines with easy transfers, and you’re demanding an apology because the location wasn’t sufficiently southwestern enough?
It was the “Southwest and Northwest” group, and you are complaining that the meetings were held very close to your office shortly after you got off work, instead of in the far distant corner of SW even though that isn’t anywhere near the NW people that might have also been planning on attending the meeting?
And I know that the streetcar groups are coming to the neighborhood association meetings too, so it isn’t like that was your only opportunity to comment. (Not that the district working groups are your only opportunity to comment anyways, but…)
Matthew wrote: It was the “Southwest and Northwest” group, and you are complaining that the meetings were held very close to your office shortly after you got off work, instead of in the far distant corner of SW even though that isn’t anywhere near the NW people that might have also been planning on attending the meeting?
So what you are saying is that only people who work downtown have a right to participate in transit planning in Portland?
What about people who live/work in SW and don’t come downtown?
And, I see that you make a rash assumption that I don’t have any other responsibilities other than work. But I’m sure you have lots of answers (really, excuses) to explain why you support denying ALL Portlanders the opportunity to comment on transportation issues, even if it runs counter to the streetcar rally call.
What do you want? Should focus groups be held in your living room? Are you suggesting that the focus groups are only being held in parts of town likely to generate a friendly audience?
Back to accommodating freight in Portland.
I fought a small battle with Earl B’s PDOT back in the early 90’s when they wanted to put in a huge turning radius at NW 23rd and Burnside to handle 67s. The AIA and NWDA Transportation said “This is ped zone..no way!” They relented. I think it is reasonable to have large trucks take some of a second lane, even the opposing lane, rather than widen crossing distances for pedestrians.
In Lower Albina PDOT staff came up with a design for truck friendly curb extensions. At some intersections, cars will sometimes park too close to corners, blocking truck turns. Better to have small curb extensions with climbable curbs…that keeps cars out of the way helping trucks turn while shortening crossing distances for peds. Most truck activity there is in the day, while more ped activity comes in the evening, so there is minimal conflict.
Last, note that the rebuilt Naito Parkway has much longer crossing distances for peds due to wider lanes demanded by PDOT’s Freight committee and to bike lanes. Pedestrians are actually more removed from access to Waterfront Park than before some millions were spent there.
Lane width should be governed by speed limits; trucks can do fine with 10′ lanes where speeds are under 30 mph.
One more thought…maybe city deliveries should be made in Daimler Sprinter vans, soon to be manufactured here in the States. OK that was a plug for my friends at Daimler Trucks NA.
Those Sprinter vans do look nice.
The Sprinters started out life as Freightliner products, didn’t they, at least in the US?
I’ve been trying to find out whether Portland has an unusually large number of them or whether they’re all over other US cities as well. Anecdotally, friends back east said, “huh?”
They’re certainly popular here.
The Sprinters are also really really quiet. One of them parked in my driveway which is right next to my bedroom, while I was in my bedroom with the window open, (but the curtains closed,) a few weeks ago, and I didn’t even hear it… And I was specifically listening for something to show up.
Sprinters are a Daimler Trucks North America product, sold under the Freightliner label. They were sold under the Dodge label until the divorce.
They have been manufactured in Germany for years, but I believe they will begin assembling, if not manufacturing, in the US soon.
They are a great example of the private sector’s ability to adapt to the what is “on the ground.” The freight community’s (or at least those who claim to speak for that community) insistance on “truck access” is more the result of their refusal to adapt. UPS, Fed Ex, DHL will not be leaving the Portland market, no matter how narrow the lanes or tight the turns.