Open Thread for the Week of 9/22/13

What’s on your mind?

41 responses to “Open Thread for the Week of 9/22/13”

    • Spencer,
      Best of luck on this. I’ve been wishing for a cycle track on Foster for a very long time. My dad who lives out there and is an exclusively car driving person, and hated the idea of road diets a month ago, has started to see some benefits. The visualization helps.

    • I’ll probably write a post after reading the full report. But I’d suggest that one important lesson is that if you build your transit lines in a freeway ditch, you limit your development potential!

    • That report fails to mention the massive public subsidies for all that development in the form of tax rebates etc. Crediting the ‘development’ strictly to light rail is extremely misleading

    • Yes, I’d like to see the study explained, too.

      For example, what justification is there for comparing a bus line which is less than 7 miles long with a ridership of 14,000+ to a rail line of 18 miles (including extensive tunneling) with a ridership of multiple times that. (TriMet no longer separates “Westside” MAX from the entire blue line, I’ve asked for the latest ridership, but it’s obviously significantly higher).

      Cleveland’s line runs quite a bit slower than MAX (and you know how often people complain that MAX is slow!) but does have the advantage of running very frequently and with 24 hour service.

  1. Cleveland’s line runs quite a bit slower than MAX (and you know how often people complain that MAX is slow!) but does have the advantage of running very frequently and with 24 hour service.

    Frequent service that runs 24 hours and you compare that to the Blue line with stops running west to east at11:45pm?

    • No, Al… They compare the two lines, even though those lines are very different and are built for different transit purposes. That’s what I’m taking an issue with. Apparently so are you. So we agree. :-)

  2. The HealthLine is a good example of median-running dedicated-lane BRT. Comparing it and MAX are perhaps apples-to-oranges, but it is a good example of what can be done.

  3. Yes. Visualization does help. At 1543 SE Umatilla St., I have visualization of the Sringwater Trail ridership, at least on that segment. Usage is way, way down with the rains. Yet another “bike apartment” is going in up the street; built, of course to the max. zoning limits.
    Are these folks going to ditch their bikes in the winter, also?

    Well, is the Pope Catholic?

    Just more evidence that this bike oriented TOD, which the overwhelming majority of Portlanders disagree with based on what I have seen at meetings, is cracked. And trust me I am not against bicycling, even though, myself, I lost about fifteen pounds this summer working on exterior upgrades on my duplex; something that, of course, is very hard to do when you live in a corporate built condo ;)

    Of course, that doesn’t stop the rising political wannabees from yammering on about it..

    • Ron, it’s pretty unwise of you to post your address on a forum like this. I’ll wave at you when I bike by though.

      We’ve sparred on this before, but since you won’t let it drop I suppose I’ll repeat myself too.

      Your observation: People do less outdoor activity when it is cold and wet. Everyone else’s response: Duh!

      What exactly are you trying to accomplish by harping on this? There are still plenty of folks who do commute by bike in the cold and wet. Everyone who does that leaves more space on the bus or road for others. So the busses and roads are more crowded and slower in the winter, but less crowded and faster in the summer. This is a good thing. We all have choices and trade-offs.

      You haven’t stumbled on some fatal flaw with biking, it’s not revelatory, and at this point it’s not even interesting conversation.

      • Thanks for your opinion. Any more? Didn’t know I was harping; I would have been reprimanded by mods if I were, and BTW this is the open thread. I don’t see what is wrong with providing facts. Did I say I was against bicycling? Even after mine was stolen at the Eco Trust building a month ago, I am still favorable.

        And, pray tell, why is putting my address up unwise? Believe it or not, I, along with other residents, are tiring of:
        1. Shouting between riders at early morning hours, including Sat and Sun mornings.
        2. Riders singing at the top of their lungs
        3. Heated arguments between bikers and auto drivers
        4. Theft from drive-by bikers
        5. Unlighted bicyclists at night
        6. Homeless campers on the Trail, who are looking for certain items or maybe something to sell for scrap
        7. People skateboarding or rollerblading right down the middle of the street
        8. Tri Met bus going by—until midnight–often with 0 passengers.
        9. Potential injurious collisions from drive by cyclist, (at night with no lights, audible warning device, or insurance) roaming down the Trail from their s—hole residences in outer SE Portland.
        10. Joggers and walkers going down the middle of the street, which is also used for freight traffic, cycle trail, and now, the overflow traffic—- because of the failed, wav-over-cost Sellwood Bridge project (300 million, vs. Hawthorne at 22 million, or St. Johns Bridge at 28 million) that does nothing to deal with the traffic crush that will occur over the next 10, 20, 30 years.—from SE Tacoma Street. Said Sellwood Bridge project was also erroneously pushed, over expert objections, because of hysteria over a Cascade subduction quake, which now, according to USCG report 1661-f would be very rare in this area. Similar reasoning to CRC advocates who say “But it will fall in the river!!”
        11. Motorized vehicles operating on the Trail (i.e. mini-scooters)

        BTW I am placing copies of the USCG 1661-f in the hands of leaders who are more competent than local, chicken little Portland libs. Such as SW Wash. Rep. Beutler instead.

        • Yes Ron, do do sort of harp on bicyclists and rain. A quick Google search of just this site turned up dozens and dozens of hits.

          The problem isn’t that you’re enthusiastic about making that point frequently, the problem is that you never incorporate any of the meaningful replies people give to you about seasonal cycle use, alternatives such as transit and walking, work-at-home, etc., that are often a part of this. You reboot the discussion every time you bring up rain and cycling, as though nothing else had ever been contributed.

          And yes, it’s generally not a good idea to publicly post your home address in a discussion forum. A lot of stalker-types out there who for whatever reason aren’t resourceful enough to look up a name and address (pretty easy to find these days), but are impulsive enough to lash out based on a heated internet discussion where all the information is right in front of them.

          I’ve experienced minor incidents of online harassment myself, and aside from that a commenter who still posts here once rather infamously contacted my former employer to double-check my online resume, didn’t get anyone, but posted the voicemail system to YouTube for whatever reason. So yes, if you put your information out there, there’s a chance someone might abuse it. The commenter was right to point it out. But I don’t think it’s a particularly significant risk.

          • Relax, Chris I. Yes……I have complained to the police. About the very noisy p/u trucks and little hondas with loud exhaust, and thedrunk drivers and the cut through traffic, but also about confrontations between bikers and drivers. Believe it or not there are very many “liberal” Portlanders who, when the route is right on therir very street get tired of the loud banter. I certainly wasn’t the first to mention it; my neighbor who is fairly liberal did, I guess because she hoped to rest on Saturday mornings and not be wakened by people on bikes talking loudly at 6 am.

            And yes, to a remark of yours a couple of weeks ago: it is a “Crime Trail.” The SE 82nd Ave area is filled with desperados and the Springwater Trail is a great means for sweeping in and snatching items away from people’s homes, plus a lot of transients use it. Please don’t try to refute facts.

            I’m pro bicycle, and actually have plans for how trails can easily be built through rough terrain, making for far better bicycle access through Portland’s west hills or in smaller towns in hilly or mountainous areas. You see, contractors are good at solving practical problems, without belaboring the steps. Sometimes slow methodical approaches are needed, but insight is generally far better.

      • Why are bike commuters stuck at 6% of mode share for 5 years? Ron’s arguments account for that (PDX weather is a permanent dis-incentive).

        What is the proof that better infrastructure (or lectures from Novick re: car cost & our household budgets) will induce people to commute by bike?

        I am part of the 6%, btw.

        So, make your case that the city council can get more people to bike, even when other initiatives routinely fail (i.e. all the campaigns to floss, eat better, exercise, not take drugs etc.)

        • Last I heard (it was a couple of years ago), PBOT was spending slightly less than 6% of its budget on what could be considered bicycle-focused infrastructure and programs. So I wouldn’t even call it an “initiative”, it was more like “catching up to the status quo”.

          Meaning that most past “initiatives” were really a way to reverse the trend of neglect for any street users other than motor vehicles.

          So in my book, a true initiative aimed at improving bicycle mode share would significantly increase the proportion of funds allocated to bicycling and peds (which are complementary to cycling).

          A caveat on that “stuck at 6%” … the mode share has been steadily increasing even during those years, going from the high 5’s, to 6, and in 2012 at 6.3 (ACS data). That’s close to the margin of error but still steadily increasing. And the ACS data takes a very narrow view of cycling: It only counts trips to work, and if you don’t commute by bike a majority of the time (50%) you’re not counted as a cycle-to-work.

          So to the extent that there are fair-weather-only cyclists, those people aren’t even counted in the 6%. School and shopping trips aren’t counted either. Health/recreation aren’t counted.

          (This issue applies to motorists, transit and pedestrians in the ACS data, too.)

          • As a longtime Portland resident (28 years), my observation has been that, recently, fair weather cycling has increased greatly for non-commuting trips. Personally, I rarely drive my car during the dry months. The bike racks at my local grocery stores are all full. In December, the numbers drop severely. I would say that cycling trips as a percentage of total trips is still increasing, but daily commuting has seemed to plateau. I have seen small increases at my outer-east Portland employer, but it is primarily fair-weather.

  4. has an article which declares that aluminum body vehicles can have a fuel saving up to 29 percent. I would still like to see a hybridized version of Ford’s 65 mpg Focus, which is sold in Europe. What are they waiting for? Of course, unlike certain Portland liberals I can’t afford the 98 mpg BMW hybrid (about 130k) that has just come out. Maybe I should become more politically correct….., and then I could. To h*** with Detroit and their UAW vehicles. ;)

    • What make you think “Portland Liberals” are buying overpriced BMWs?

      Most “Portland Liberals” I know work for a living and those with cars buy ones which are more affordable, foreign and domestic. Ford makes pretty good and popular hybrids these days. The now-classic Prius will have a made-in-USA variant in 2015 (and is still the MPG leader of all liquid-fuel models available in the USA from any manufacturer).

      The people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting who flaunt expensive BMWs, by and large (but not entirely), tend to skew conservative.

      There reasons you’re unlikely to see a “65mpg” Ford Focus ECOnetic over here:

      1. Imperial gallons have about 83% of the volume of US gallons, bringing that MPG figure down to 54MPG.
      2. US emissions standards require equipment that slightly reduces fuel economy.
      3. US EPA figures are more stringently calculated than EU, so a car with a particular rating in the EU will have a lower rating here, even if it doesn’t need changes to meet US emissions standards.
      4. The Focus ECOnetic runs on Diesel. A gallon of gasoline has only 88% of the BTU of a gallon of Diesel (and the same difference in carbon emissions per gallon burned). So when comparing gasoline cars to Diesel cars, you need to adjust for BTU if you’re thinking in terms of pollution or oil consumption. Thus, the hypothetical 54MPG (US) Diesel compares to 48MPG (US) gasoline. There are already gasonline hybrids on the US market that accomplish this.
      5. As BusinessWeek has stated about the Fiesta ECOnetic (the cheaper, smaller model below the Focus):

      “doesn’t believe it could charge enough to make money on an imported ECOnetic” and doesn’t think it would sell enough of the model (350,000/year) to justify the $350 million in upgrades required at their Mexico plant to manufacture it.

      (That’s right, if Ford did bring the model here, it’d be made in Mexico.)

      And you’re unlikely to see the “hybridized version” ever developed, because:

      6. Diesel engine systems (especially those that meet US emissions) are more expensive to produce that gasoline engine systems. This particular one already has added turbo equipment and start/stop equipment. Adding a full hybrid system on top of that makes the car even more expensive to produce.

      But don’t fret. The Ford Fusion hybrid is already available. It’s made in Flat Rock, Michigan, and it has an EPA rating of 47MPG, which is within 1 or 2 MPG of what the Focus ECOnetic would consume in terms of oil and emit in terms of carbon, were it to be brought over here.

      That’s almost, but not quite, in Prius territory. But if you want a sedan rather than a hatch, it’s the best on the market, beating even the (albeit larger) Camry hybrid.

      • Bobby, there is nothing wrong with hypothesizing about a diesel based hybrid. Please remember that technology is advancing, therefore whereas a potential Ford diesel hybrid might not be maufacturable with the present diesel architecture there probably will be breakhroughs. The item I have repeated the most, apparently in vain, is that on there are dozens of articles every week pertaining to breakthroughs in motor vehicles and technology. So I don’t think that a Ford diesel/hybrid is too far fetched, and with its more limited fuel consumption supplying said cars with biodiesel would be realistic.

        I have to remind certain libertarians that urban planning must hit moving targets; therefore, planning based on current numbers (such as the “1300 commuters from Vancouver”) is not realistic. Likewise, I guess I need to remind you that motor vehicle fuel consumption is also a moving target and certain assumptions advanced by certain citizen activists probably are not realistic either.

        Now as far as Portland liberals driving expensive cars, are you saying that those westside Portlanders in their expensive imported autos belong to the TEA party? Surely, you jest. Are you saying that they didn’t tend to vote for Obama, Kitzhaber, Adams, Cogen, etc.?

        But knowing you I expect more disingenuous statements.

        And, in response to a statement above by Mr. Smith regarding “development potential” I remember a while back in a METRO race, libs were criticizing a certain candidate for being a “bulldozer buddy.” But I guess it’s OK when you are politically correct……

        • Sorry, are you Ronny and not Ron? Not sure why you called me “Bobby”, nice to be confused with a famous Kennedy nonetheless. But in any case…

          “there is nothing wrong with hypothesizing” … “there probably will be breakhroughs”

          Agreed, in principle, but if you actually read your original comment, that’s not what you brought up. You said “What are they waiting for?”, as if to imply there’s present-day technology that’s being kept from our shores for some unknown, non-market reason. That’s simply not the case.

          I was answering your question, sincerely, with facts. Sorry if you were expecting something else.

          “But knowing you I expect more disingenuous statements.”

          Way to keep it on-topic and not personal, Ron. Please consult the rules.

          Now as far as Portland liberals driving expensive cars, are you saying that those westside Portlanders in their expensive imported autos belong to the TEA party?

          I didn’t confine my statement to only one area of Portland, and neither did you. Don’t move the goalposts. (And precisely how many 130K cars are there driving around Portland, anyway?).

          Political persuasions aside, the median household income in Portland is just over $40K. Most of those households, liberal or conservative, are not buying exotic imported supercars.

          Now that you’ve been reminded of this, I’m certain (knowing you) that you won’t engage in needless stereotyping again, and that you will stick to a factual discussion.

          • Sure, I’m aware that Ford is only hybridizing gas engines now. And that hybridizing adds a LOT of weight to a car, and changes many characterisitcs. and that hybridizing a focus into diesel hybrid would be complicated and require overall upgrading but:
            “What are they waiting for?” And if they don’t have all of the solutions other suppliers of components have them now or will soon.

            “When hope is all but lost, the boldest plan is the safest.”
            Attributed to Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh

          • bobby, please don’t take start again. Yes, some Portlanders who might vote the Straight Democratic ticket even drive Ford F-150’s. We all know that. But when I see expensive imported cars cruising around downtown or westside Portland I assume that most of the drivers are Democratic voters (or have been recently) just because most Portlanders overwhlemingly were.

            And, Observation 2.. Detroit, Cleveland, Youngstown, western PA, are having a very bad time. Please contrast this to when their vehicles and parts were bought by more Americans. Furthermore my income doesn’t even match what some west side Portlanders pay per year in:
            1: Auto payments
            2. Auto Insurance payments
            3. Auto operating costs
            4. Auto maintenance
            5. Auto parking
            6. Property taxes

            Please go after the people that are weakening the US economy and still haven’t given up their personal mobility through a motor vehicle, NOT ME!!!!!! Especially, IMO, when it means a lot of money going out of the country.

    • From the article: “Specifically, Hales said he and City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees Portland’s Transportation Bureau, have broached the idea of extending the Eastside line past the Broadway Bridge, where it travels into downtown Portland, further north along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The line would extend up to Portland Community College’s Cascade campus.”

      Interesting choice for the next segment. That would have a higher projected ridership than a Hawthorne or Belmont alignment?

      • I wonder if they’re consulting or conforming to the Streetcar System Concept Plan (an exercise that included hundreds of people and dozens of groups over many months) or just starting from scratch with this proposal?

        The plan did envision streetcars going up MLK, but not terminating at PCC, instead going all the way to Lombard and possibly out toward St. Johns.

        • It seems like they should be consulting communities that have a desire to host a streetcar, and at the very least involving the PSI CAC before setting priorities on where the next alignment should be.

          It’s understandable that “extensions” are easier to fund, but as a grant writer I know that you can easily make the argument that any spur off a MAX alignment is an extension of the total transportation system. That means Foster Road and Gateway are easily candidates. And considering the need for forward thinking public investment by the City in East Portland, they would be the more socially just and progressive approach.

        • Well, I can see the project as a “phase I” to St. Johns: MLK to Killingsworth, Killingsworth to Interstate and a connection to the Yellow Line. Ending at PCC seems like a wasted opportunity when eight more blocks gets you to a MAX connection.

          Phase 2 could extend to Lombard and St. Johns at some undefined future date. Or not.

    • I have lived by and used the streetcar for several years (although I prefer biking and walking). As we all know, it is depressingly slow, good for short trips when it’s raining, and successful at getting tourists to use transit (I say this without being facetious).

      But imagine taking the streetcar for two miles averaging a few miles an hour. If I need to get to PCC, I take the MAX. Let’s have a discussion about a transit system that is focused on getting people somewhere quickly. Use the money on the Powell MAX.

        • You must enjoy taking the Banfield MAX since standing on a noisy, polluted platform waiting for a train at Hollywood, 60th. or 82nd is such a pleasant experience?

          The best of all worlds is to build grade-separated transit along arterials and not freeways but freeway stations dramatically reduce the local walkshed and TOD potential of light rail at the expense of speed. They are also very uncomfortable places to wait 15 minutes for a train. This makes it preferable for suburbanities looking for a quick commute to downtown, but not so much for the local neighborhood. At least a few blocks away on Interstate, you have a chance to build a cohesive community surrounding the stations. Try that on 92nd and Powell.

          • For spurring development (which I think was the case for Interstate MAX), then yeah, Interstate Ave is much better than I-5. Besides not being next to the freeway, Interstate has the denser development.

            But I imagine freeway stops having glass walls between the tracks and the traffic, as well as possibly being at grade level. And an I-5 route is closer to Mississippi Ave, PCC Cascades, Peninsula Park and other places.

            I think the issue limiting surface speeds is interactions with pedestrians and vehicles. There’s no barriers and at intersections, the only things that stop them are red and Don’t Walk signals.

        • Building along freeways destroys your walkshed. The reason you see it so much is because it’s easy to do. Interstate MAX is pretty quick, but it could be faster. MAX operates too slowly on surface streets like Interstate and Burnside. Similar trams in Europe will get up to 40-50mph, and blast through intersections. Not sure why Trimet is so conservative with MAX operations…

          • Agreed. Having a few places where the MAX dip under or over intersections would improve this a lot. Intersections that are between stops would be good candidates such as Alberta, Ainsworth and 113th. The MAX could blow through these intersections not worrying about stalled traffic. Something to think about if we can get the support enough to demand another MAX line on Powell or Barbur.

  5. BikePortland reports on yearly and monthly results from the (privately donated) Hawthorne Bridge bicycle counter.

    The monthly graph shows that seasonal usage variations aren’t quite so dramatic as popular misconceptions might suggest, at least not for close-in downtown commuting.

  6. The Atlantic Cities has delved a little deeper into this “max spurs investment” propaganda that has recently been circling the Trimet blog circles.

    So what mattered most to TOD success? Government intervention, says ITDP. When local government did almost nothing to promote TOD, a new transit line generated only a nominal amount of economic investment. Case in point: the South and West busways in Pittsburgh had weak support and produced little TOD investment, but the city’s (moderately supported) East busway produced $903 million.

    Only when strong government intervention occurred was a transit line assured of generating a great deal of TOD success. Rezoning a corridor to encourage mixed-use development, creating a comprehensive plan for the area, actively reaching out to investors, marketing the program, offering financial incentives — these elements of a strong official involvement directly predicted TOD success. ITDP writes:

    It’s not the light rail or the BRT that spurs the growth, its tax incentives and government handouts that gets developers to build, and those developers make a pile of dough in the process.

    Government has no business doing ‘social engineering’ like that as far as I am concerned.

    The Surprising Key to Making Transit-Oriented Development Work – Eric Jaffe – The Atlantic Cities

  7. I see they are trying to find ways to kill off the streetcar riders:
    Do people ride if Streetcar fare rises? |

    Some people argue the money being spent on the streetcar could be going to other transportation priorities, from bike lanes to potholes.
    To help fill the streetcar revenue gap, board members are discussing a fare hike. One option would take a ticket from $1 to $2.50 — the same as a TriMet two-hour ticket.

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