Archive | June, 2013

Building Biker’s Paradise – and the Rest of Portland


Late last year, I was on a podcast talking about the Comprehensive Plan update and was asked about tips for where the best places to live in the future would be. Intuitively I answered “inner SE and inner NE are going to get even more awesome”.

Last week, my intuition got validated by some data. Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, has been analyzing data from the Oregon Household Activity Survey. He’s been looking at how cycling has grown from 1994 to 2011 and how it will need to grow to hit a 25% mode share by 2035. The answer varies quite a bit by geography.

You can find Roger’s white paper and the slides he presented at Metro last week online.

The graphic above shows Roger’s estimate of the mode split in different parts of town to meet the Portland Plan goal of getting single-occupancy vehicle trips down to about 40% of all trips.

A note on how to read the graphic – it refers to the trips generated by households in the area of town. So if I drive to 82nd Ave from my home in NW, that trip is assigned to “West PDX” where I live.

“Inner East”, the area I intuitively suggested was “going to get even more awesome” has a lot going for it on the path to becoming “Biker’s Paradise”. First, the majority of Portland’s population lives in this area, and therefore it generates more than half the trips. But densities are consistently moderately high, there are lots of services available as destinations, and it’s proximate to the jobs center in Portland’s central city.

That’s a perfect mix for leveraging the Portland Plan goals of making walking the preferred mode for trips under one mile and cycling the preferred mode for trips under 3 miles. There are a LOT of trips of this distance by folks living in this area. That’s why Roger can project more than one-third of trips by bicycle in 2035 for households in this area.

But what about the rest of the city? Outer East is challenged by lower average densities, a lack of destinations and a long distance to employment areas (downtown and various industrial districts).

Southwest is challenged by hills and the lack of a grid system.

I’m actually hopeful that we can outperform some of Roger’s numbers for cycling in these areas, but equity is going to demand that if cycling can’t perform as well, then we need to disproportionately invest in transit in these area.

I’m hopeful that electric bikes may boost the cycling numbers, conquering the hills in Southwest and the longer distances in Outer East. But here’s my recipe for how to optimize the results in each area:

Outer East:

  • Build sidewalks!
  • Improve frequent transit network with more frequency and addition of north/south lines
  • Encourage more mixed used development and commercial centers (we’ve already started this with zoning on 122nd)
  • Encourage development of jobs centers in Gateway and Lents so there are employment opportunities closer to the population


Multi-modality in the Netherlands

OTREC at PSU is pleased to host an informal, post-term, welcome-summer seminar…

Eva Heinen, Ph.D.
Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Cycling in the Netherlands and Multi-Modality
Public transport as well as walking and cycling offer an environmental friendly alternative to car travel. Not only trips that are solely made by public transport or by a non-motorized mode could be an alternative for car travel; The combination of the two offers additional benefits for both the traveler and society and is thus a competitive alternative to car travel. The combination of bicycling and public transport is commonly used in some countries, such as the Netherlands: more than 40% of all train travellers cycle to the train station. This presentation will focus on the facilities and policies around the integration of bicycle and other modes of transport and preliminary findings on the users of these combined use of transport in the Dutch context.

Tuesday June 18, 1:30-2:30
ITS Lab (Room 315)
PSU Engineering Building, 1930 SW 4th Ave.
(Sorry, no webcast for this one)

Eva Heinen is assistant professor of infrastructure planning and mobility at the Department of Spatial Planning & Environment, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen. She was awarded a PhD on the topic ‘Bicycle commuting’ in 2011 by Delft University of Technology – during which period she spent three months at the University of California in Davis as a visiting scholar. She continued working as a researcher at Delft until her move to Groningen. She has published many papers on cycling in international and national journals and has a large international network in cycling, demonstrated by her involvement in many scientific committees and joint publications with international researchers. In 2004 she received a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Delft University of Technology, and in 2005 a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Amsterdam. After graduation she worked as a government trainee and gained experience at the former Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), the former Netherlands Institute of Spatial Research (RPB) and the Transport Department at the Dutch Embassy in Berlin. She is a member of the editorial board of ‘Rooilijn’, a Dutch journal for science and policy in spatial planning; a member of the Bicycle Committee; co-chair of the paper and program committee of this committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), one of six major divisions of the National Research Council of the US which holds an annual meeting with over 4,000 presenters; Co-Session Track Organizer for Topic Area F: Transport, Land Use and Sustainability of the World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR).

The Equity Implications of the TriMet Fare App

The beta test for the TriMet fare app is winding down, and Joe Rose at the Oregonian has published a review of it.

I think the review is fair and pretty much reflects my experience as a beta tester as well.

It’s the headline that scares me: “GlobeSherpa’s TriMet Tickets app rescues riders from the machines”.

Now I make my living as a technologist, and process innovation is a big part of what I do, so I’m delighted that the fare app technology is becoming available.

But it does not excuse TriMet from making their ticket vending machines (TVMs) reliable!

I don’t personally use the TVMs much, I usually buy books of tickets over the counter at retailers. But clearly TVMs have been a huge headache for riders.

So if we “rescue” a subset of users from that problem based on their ability to afford an expensive smart phone, that’s a big equity problem. If a lower transaction volume on the TVMs due to smart phone use lowers maintenance cost, that’s great. But TriMet cannot be allowed to leave one class of users stuck with sub-par service.