Author Archive | rburkholder

Updated: Walk There

Updated: 5/5/09

My correspondent at Metro tells me that the Walk There guide is now available in an updated second edition, but is, unfortunately, no longer free. It is available for $9.95 from the Metro Data Resource Center and at local book stores.

Many of the walks are available as free downloadable PDFs from Metro’s web site.

Original Post: 7/14/08

Walk There Cover

Taking a walk has taken on a new meaning these days. Metro has just released a book all about it. It’s called “Walk There!”, and it’s a guide to 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver.

OK so walking is not new, but when you combine gorgeous summer weather with gas prices going through the roof, you can come up with lots of reasons to hit the streets. It’s safe, it’s healthy, it’s good for the environment, and one of the easiest, most affective activities you can do to save money.

The 50 walks are indexed by city, and cover the entire region. There are five categories:

  • Nature in Neighborhoods Walk- features parks, trails and scenic
    places close to home

  • Power Walk- routes with longer distances and elevated terrain
  • City Cruise- walks within city centers and commercial districts
  • History Walk- learn about the region’s rich history firsthand
  • Lunchtime Stroll- walks are over level terrain, take about an
    hour and are suitable for people with mobility assistance devices or strollers

The book, which is free, was produced with funds from Kaiser Permanente. You can pick it up at Metro’s Data Resource Center at 600 NE Grand Avenue, or order it online for a $5 shipping fee ( It will be also be distributed through Kaiser health education classes, community walking events and other Kaiser programs. Or, hit the web, where you can download all 50 featured walks.

Climate Change Integration Group Report

From Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder:

Attached is a big file, the final report of the Climate Change Integration Group (PDF, 1.9M), set up by the Governor to make recommendations on how Oregon should respond to and try to counteract, global warming.

In particular, check out the section on reducing vehicle miles traveled on page 50-54. Both transportation and land use policies to discourage driving and encourage alternate modes are recommended.

This report now goes to the new Global Warming Advisory Commission, set up by last year’s legislature and chaired by Angus Duncan, head of the BPA Environmental Foundation. The goal is to turn these recommendations into legislation for 2009 and actions by state agencies.

Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan

Since the Regional Transportation Plan is fully underway, and grabs most of the headlines, I thought everyone should also know about what Metro is doing with regard to high capacity rail planning.

First of all, we in Portland owe much to the dedicated and visionary leaders and planners in the 1970’s and 1980’s for the incredible regional rail system that we have today. Our system benefited from the regional compact in 1990 that laid the foundation for the expansion of the light rail system from 15 miles to over 60 miles. We have made amazing progress in the last 20 years on our existing plans, as well as projects not even envisioned in that era, namely a 15-mile Commuter Rail line that’s currently under construction from Wilsonville to Beaverton as well as the Portland Streetcar system, which has brought amazing economic development along with its ridership success.

But despite our region’s success, we must not rest on our laurels, so we’re aggressively pursing new rail system planning.

Starting this summer and ramping up in the fall, Metro will be undertaking a Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan. This plan will build on the work currently underway in the RTP, and will include the prioritization of future major transit investments in the region. Metro will be evaluating ridership, costs, operations and financial feasibility of potential light rail, streetcar, commuter rail and bus rapid transit projects in the region. The work will be closely coordinated with TriMet and local jurisdictions. Metro’s efforts will dovetail with work that the City of Portland is undertaking on the development of a Streetcar system plan.

I hope that everyone who follows transportation issues closely is both thankful for how well our region has planned and implemented our rail transit system and energized about our ongoing and future efforts to add more rail capacity. It’s one of the most valuable assets our region has to maintain our economic security and quality of life for generations to come.

Past agreements have allowed us to avoid the multi-billion dollar tax increases seen in places like Denver, Salt Lake and Phoenix to rectify the unsustainable practices of sprawl and automobile monoculture. Steady, modest investments coupled with smart land use planning and good urban design help us avoid drastic actions yet we can’t let up. This next round of constructing our region’s transportation “backbone”—high capacity transit—is critical.

Whoops! Did I say that?

Update: 12/18/06

Rex’s piece ran as an op-ed in today’s O, with a response piece from Gregg Weston of OTAK.

Gregg’s comeback is that we should set “audacious goals” for transportation.

Hmmm… should our transportation goals be audacious? Or should our transportation goals be modest and our land use goals audacious? Or some combination thereof?

Original Post: 12/12/06

“Every penny we spend on transportation is wasted.”

Oregonian, November 27, 2006

Whoops! Did I say that? I guess it’s a fine line between provoking constructive debate and confusing people.

Admittedly, my remarks probably did more of the latter. If I have offended any of the committed, hard working transportation engineers, planners and construction crews, or my fellow policy makers and transportation advocates, I am truly sorry.

The point I was trying to make is that travel isn’t free. We need to see it as a cost to avoid or minimize. In this region, government’s annual tab is about $600 million. But even that is dwarfed by how much average families spend to own and operate the cars they need — more than $6 billion a year — ten times what the government spends.

So as we map out our transportation future, there are two ways we can get people to where they need to go and keep commerce moving reliably, and save us all time and money. One, design our communities so that people can perform everyday tasks without having to travel as far. After all, only one in five trips is work related. Two, provide more choices to get around efficiently: safe, appealing sidewalks, bike lanes, and good transit, all so that people can choose something other than sitting in traffic jams.

Granted, many people still live far away from where they need to go on a daily basis. And for others, circumstances change: ­ jobs may move further away or kids change schools. But this shouldn’t force people to leave houses and neighborhoods they like. We’ll all still take weekend trips and have to run errands in the car. Freight will still move on trucks.

Rest assured, I recognize we will need to invest in new roads as well as maintain the ones we’ve got so that car travel and business commerce remains viable.

But as we grow, we owe it to ourselves to build more old-fashioned neighborhoods like the one I live in, with jobs and stores close to home, good, reliable transit, and streets safe to walk and bike along — so that people have the freedom to live less expensive, less transportation-intensive lives. That not only equates to more time doing the things we value, like spending time with friends and family, but it’s also a direct benefit for those who still need to make daily car trips and for time-critical truck deliveries and business travel, because our roads will be less congested.